Service and Site-Work:

An AmeriCorps Experience

This post is part of a series dedicated to our AmeriCorps members who have donated a large chunk of time as well as their skills and willingness to learn to the Habitat for Humanity – Seattle King County mission. You can find more stories like this one by clicking on the “AmeriCorps Experience” tag. 

      Robby ended up in the AmeriCorps program as part of his dedication to living “a life of service and simplicity.” Prior to coming to Habitat-SKC, he’d visited several intentional communities around the country with his wife and worked for a nonprofit construction company for four years followed by a two year stint in residential construction and carpentry. “I really enjoy construction, working with my hands and working with a nonprofit towards social change, social justice so I thought Habitat for Humanity would be a great opportunity to do that.”

     During the 10 ½ months he’s served with Habitat, he’s worked as a Construction Crew Lead spending most of his time on repair work for homeowners throughout Seattle. It took him 2-4 months to get really comfortable with the work, the expectations, the different bosses and the region. “I’ve bounced around to a lot of different sites just b/c I live the furthest and I have a car of my own but I really enjoy that. There’s a lot of diversity, I’ve learned a lot of different things. I don’t think I would change anything.”

Robby with his daughter and wife.

 Working on repairs, the opportunity to interact with homeowners wasn’t as abundant as it is when AmeriCorps work on “new construction” sites. “There was this one woman, Elaine, who invited us into her house and had a meal but that’s pretty unusual,” Robby recalled. There are all kinds of opportunities to engage with program participants though and at one point, Robby went to a couple of homeowner meetings with his supervisor who manages the repair program. “It was great. You get to talk with them on a deeper level and get to gauge them personally and that was a great aspect, to do the site visits. I’m glad I got to do that… It was a great opportunity, ‘cause they welcome you into their home and that can be a sensitive thing but they’re very gracious and hospitable.”

His advice to any incoming AmeriCorps members is to take advantage of any opportunities to interact with hew Habitat families. “Realize that’s a special thing. We’re participating in their future and realization of a dream.”

      Even though Robby spent a lot of time during his AmeriCorps term working closely with the repair program, he’s learned a considerable amount about the “new construction” process as well, particularly concrete, form-work and foundation. “I’ll probably take a lot of the processes on with me,” he added. Fortunately, Robby plans on continuing to work in nonprofit construction work and has even agreed to do a second term with Habitat-SKC.