Your Co-workers Are Your Family:
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.
Construction Crew Lead, NiCole, wrapped up a 10 ½ month AmeriCorps term just to jump right back into another one with a mentorship focused nonprofit in New Orleans. She’ll be motivating high school students to enter into the construction field, “as it is a really steady form of employment that pays decently well and not everyone is in the financial or mental space to go to a four year university straight out of high school.”
NiCole came to Habitat with a passion for urban development and fond memories of doing handiwork as a child, with her father. “Habitat’s been in my life for a very long time now. I started volunteering in High School, and I knew that it was something that I loved. I loved the feeling of accomplishment after having done something with my hands and working with my hands was something that I knew was very important to me, from helping my dad out on home repair projects when I was a kid. It was the best part of my childhood.” Additionally, she studied community and regional development in College. While she thought she would end? up on the policy making side of things, she knew it was a hard field to break into and decided that working with Habitat was another way to be involved in the causes she cared about.
During her time with Habitat-SKC, she managed volunteers who make up a large portion of Habitat’s workforce but particularly developed relationships with the “regulars”. For NiCole, the relationships she developed with the people she worked with reinforced the decision she made to move to a new place and commit to 10 ½ months of service. “We went on this hike with a regular volunteer and he was like ‘your spouse and your children aren’t you’re real family. Your coworkers are your family.’ And I turned around and there was a line of all my coworkers and I just thought to myself ‘Wow, I really like my chosen family and I’m not going to say what an attractive family I have but their insides are beautiful and in work you can pick an organization where you constantly have a good chosen family or you can pick something for other reasons, like money, and I think that I’m making good decisions in terms of believing in the people and the organization and choosing my employment.”
Now, at the end of her service, NiCole feels that her time with Habitat-SKC has given her meaning in her everyday life, saying “there’s value in that feeling, that cannot be translated into any kind of salary.” She also attributes her time in the Pacific Northwest with leading her into her next journey. “The nonprofit’s mission is something that I really believe in and I think my year of service with Habitat definitely put me in line for this thing. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to move across the country if I hadn’t gone through the AmeriCorps program… It does take care of you, it is pretty strenuous but you get what you give.”