By: Annah Walters
I had never swung a hammer (or stepped foot on a construction site, for that matter), but in the spring of my sophomore year, I found myself in suburban Texas, doing just that. Two weeks before, on the hunt for some sun and warm weather, I signed up for an alternative spring break with Habitat for Humanity. Looking back, this trip would pave my way to AmeriCorps, and with it, a long lasting commitment to service.
When I returned to my college campus, I joined the chapter board, and for the next two years, I supported my local affiliate through building, fundraising, and taking the lead on two spring trips. As graduation approached in 2008, my thoughts turned to how my work with Habitat, which had slowly become a significant presence in my life, could continue and grow beyond college.
Enter AmeriCorps. I explored many opportunities to serve affiliates across the country before ultimately landing in Santa Ana, California, with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. As Family Services Coordinator, I organized homebuyer selection for a pilot program serving active military and veterans and took full advantage of putting my bilingual skills to work, leading Spanish language homebuyer orientations and translating application materials.
Ten months and 1,700 service hours later, I swapped coasts to begin my second year of AmeriCorps as a capacity building VISTA with Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. Working in the nation’s capital presented unforgettable opportunities, including meeting the President and First Lady and participating in the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.
Though no longer an AmeriCorps member, I remain active as an alumna while I translate my experiences and skills to new challenges. To echo the theme of this year’s week of recognition, I heartily affirm that AmeriCorps works, and I’m proud to be counted as one of the 800,000 strong who continue to get things done for America.