Teamwork Among Trusses:
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.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, I feel pretty strong with my carpentry and my construction background. I’ve only done it for two years but within the two years I feel I have a great foundation; I can build upon that, whether it be working in different conditions, weather or however many volunteers come out.” Jeramee spent two years as a Construction Crew Lead for Habitat for Humanity. He completed his first term at the San Francisco affiliate, after teaching in China for two years through the Peace Corps. Looking for a change in scenery, he applied to Habitat-SKC. “I extended to do a second year because I was afraid that everything I had learned in that first year, that I would forget it, that it wasn’t enough to solidify that information.”
While expanding his carpentry skills in Seattle, he found that he also valued the feeling of being on a team that AmeriCorps Program Manager, Lisa, cultivates. “I appreciated how we had meetings on Tuesday with the people from the office so I found out what [everyone] was doing… I enjoyed being a part of a team – the way Lisa leads things and takes care of us, takes us out for team building things.” AmeriCorps experiences can differ widely across organizations and position types so Lisa’s commitment to keeping the AmeriCorps connected and tuned into each other makes the connection Corps members develop with Habitat even stronger.
One of the most consistent experiences for Habitat Corps members is the Build-A-Thon blitz build. Corps members, regardless of their day-to-day duties within their Habitat affiliates, all participate in a week of direct support building houses at another location. BAT turned out to be another moment that demonstrated the progress Corps members were making in their service year. “Working on the roof, I could see everybody working and every time I looked up, we were killing it at something or other. BJ on the garage, Megan and Taryn doing landscaping, Robby on the trusses. It made me feel like we have a strong team. Everywhere I look around, we’re leading and everybody’s looking to us for answers.”
Jeramee’s time with Habitat-SKC leads right into his new position at ANEW – an apprenticeship program that volunteers with Habitat-SKC and where he’ll be preparing women to go into the construction field. “I think I learned a lot about how to be a better team player, understanding some of my coworkers and what their strengths and weaknesses are, understanding what my own strengths and weaknesses are, being able to do that with volunteers as well and putting the right person on the right task, asking them in the right way without pushing them too hard.”
Given his multiple years of instructing others, his advice to incoming service members seems pretty sound: “learn as much as possible, ask as many questions and take advantage of this time while there’s someone that does have all this knowledge… Whether [new Corps members] want to go into the trades or not, I think it’s important knowing how to build and use your hands and critical thinking.”