For every $1 put into national long-term service programs like AmeriCorps, there is a societal return of $3.95 in the way of earnings, output, and community-wide gains. Every year, Habitat for Humanity Chicago utilizes between six and 10 of these long-term volunteers both in the office and on the construction site. The benefits to the organization and our Chicago community are countless, but the benefits for the service members themselves are pretty great, too!
Depending on the program, AmeriCorps members might be eligible for student loan forbearance and an education award, counseling and financial planning resources, and/or childcare benefits. Perhaps most importantly though, all AmeriCorps members join a strong, supportive alumni association with wide-ranging resources and wide-reaching connections.
A critical piece of the Habitat AmeriCorps experience is Build-a-Thon blitz build. Once a year, AmeriCorps members from across the country travel to a local Habitat for a week-long Build-a-Thon where 300+ AmeriCorps members work together to build multiple homes from the ground up. This year the group traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina to build with Wake County Habitat. Here’s what some of our Habitat Chicago AmeriCorps members had to say about the experience:
"It was great to see a house built from start to finish in such a short amount of time! I also loved meeting people from all over the country with similar interests and experiences." -Kate, AmeriCorps National Construction Crew Leader
“During the home dedication ceremony, after all the 90 degrees days and challenges, the unbridled expression of genuine joy and gratitude of the homeowners resulted in a palpable sense of accomplishment, unity and good will. Witnessing the core mission of Habitat being fulfilled is a profoundly moving experience, one which I look forward to participating in again soon, and many times thereafter.” -Ron, AmeriCorps National Construction Crew Leader
"Talking to so many members of different local Habitats really put into perspective just how differently each city handles our mission. It made me realize how wide-reaching and high-quality the work that we do is." -Jo, AmeriCorps National Construction Crew Leader
"At the beginning of the week we were able to meet the homebuyers who would be living in the houses we were building. At the end of the week, the homebuyers came to the build site to find their homes nearly complete and let me tell you, their faces were priceless. They left for one week and came back to a whole new life, and that really put into perspective why I do AmeriCorps." -Aiden, AmeriCorps National Construction Crew Leader
"I felt really lucky to be around so many passionate and driven people who were united around the mission to build affordable homes in the Raleigh community. I left the week recharged and even more motivated to continue my work at Habitat Chicago. I also left with a greater appreciation for the dedication and hard work that the Habitat Chicago construction staff and AmeriCorps crew leaders put in on a daily basis." -Misia, AmeriCorps Project Development VISTA
“During my week at Build-a-Thon, I learned how lucky I am to be a part of the Habitat Chicago AmeriCorps team. Beyond giving me helpful tips and patient instruction to take to the construction site, getting to spend time as a group at the end of a long build day will always be a fond memory.” -Victoria, AmeriCorps Resource Development VISTA
"On the first day of Build-a-thon I was assigned a painting task and before I knew what hit me, I was given charge of painting tasks for the entire week. You wouldn't believe how much my ‘cutting in’ skills improved. As an AmeriCorps who works in the office, I loved the opportunity to work with my hands and experience a side of the work that is so essential to the Habitat mission." -Abigail, AmeriCorps Project Development VISTA
“This was my second Build-a-Thon at the end of my second AmeriCorps term and I’m still blown away by the scope and magnitude of the Habitat mission. I swung a hammer with people working at affiliates in Silicon Valley, Kawaii, and rural New York, each of them so different in their experiences but so similar in their compassion. Habitat’s approach to affordable housing is truly inspired and I think AmeriCorps is unique in the way that it brings people together to do good.” -Stefan, AmeriCorps National Volunteer Coordinator
"It was wonderful getting a chance to meet AmeriCorps members from across the country and hear about their experiences at other Habitat affiliates. As for the build itself, it was amazing to see how well-organized the event was. Being able to keep 300 people working hard the whole week without any down time was really impressive. Of course I can't overlook the work of the hospitality team who kept us well-fed with snow cones and kept the water flowing. We couldn't have made it through the week without them!" -Mike, AmeriCorps National Crew Leader
In a few short weeks, nearly half of our current AmeriCorps cohort will be reaching the end of their service terms. They will take the skills they learned here to find meaningful careers elsewhere or return to school to further their education. We are so incredibly grateful for all of the hard work and commitment they have given us by dedicating a year of their lives to building strength and stability in Chicago.
If you or someone you know is interested in a similar experience, consider applying today! We have positions available on our construction site and in our office.