By: Paula Katrina Drago
In 1996, Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. began hosting AmeriCorps Members, and last September marked the 16th group to serve with our organization. We honored their dedication and service during AmeriCorps Week, March 10-17, and now we’d like to share a few reasons why we just wouldn’t be the same without them.
1. AmeriCorps Members make the best new hires
Why start from scratch when you can hire someone who has already dedicated a year of service to your organization? The knowledge and experience they gain during their service year make AmeriCorps Members great permanent staff. Of the 15 staff members that work at DC Habitat, one-third are former AmeriCorps Members.
2. AmeriCorps Members leave a lasting imprint
AmeriCorps Members are constantly looking for sustainable ways to move our organization forward. The projects and programs they develop and implement, and the increased capacity they create, remain in place years later to improve organizational efficiency.
3. AmeriCorps Members are the face of DC Habitat
Every day, Members interact with DC Habitat supporters throughout the community whether they are leading groups of volunteers in construction, interacting with donors and advocates at affiliate events, responding to volunteer inquiries and feedback, or working with Habitat homebuyers.
5. AmeriCorps Members make connections and build relationships
Service doesn’t end when the work day is over. Members are passionate about their communities and get involved in a variety of ways; they attend community meetings, volunteer their free time with other non-profits, and connect with service-minded people and organizations. Through these activities and connections, DC Habitat can make ties with local schools, different nonprofits, faith organizations and many more people and programs.
6. AmeriCorps Members increase our annual volunteer capacity by over 350%
In 2011, our AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leaders helped to supervise 60-120 volunteers weekly. With staff alone, our weekly capacity would drop to just 20. That means over 2,800 more people volunteered last year because of AmeriCorps.
7. AmeriCorps Members increase our annual building capacity by 400%
Nine homes > two homes, and nine homes is now the minimum number we can build each year with the help of construction volunteers that AmeriCorps Members supervise. Seven more families will become homeowners this year thanks to their service.
8. AmeriCorps Members can’t get enough
They don’t exactly creep around once they finish their term (for the most part), but they do manage to find ways to continue serving. Habitat AmeriCorps Alums volunteered more than 192 hours at DC Habitat last year alone. When occasional volunteering isn’t enough, Members return to serve another term, like all of our six current Members who are on their second (or third!) year of service.
What we’re trying to say is, AmeriCorps, you complete us! Thanks to all our Members, past and present, for all that you do for your communities.