Worlds Collide in Seattle Tacoma Joint Build: An AmeriCorps Experience

Do it together, defines Friday, May 4th as Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps members from the Seattle and Tacoma affiliates worked together in repairing a home in Pierce County.

Christina Penafiel organized the event between the two affiliates providing a chance for AmeriCorps members to meet one another while repairing a home in need.

“Meeting other service members is always a really exciting time. Service members tend to have a really great balance between our similar motivations for becoming an AmeriCorps member and a crazy amount of differing interests and life experiences. I feel like I always get exposed to new things that peak my interests both locally and sometimes as far as what the next phase of my life looks like. It’s invigorating and makes my time serving that much more interesting.” Said Jaylana Walton, an AmeriCorps member who is in her second term.

With members collaborating in synergy with one another, groups broke off to finish several projects from painting the interior of the house to lifting sheds. The pierce county home was jumped forward in its progress.

The joining between the AmeriCorps teams made an impact on their site project and provided a channel of communication for members to meet one another.

“I definitely hope joint builds continue to happen. It’s a great way to switch up the work routine. I’m not on the construction crew so I can’t say for sure but I think it’s nice for the construction crew to have the extra help if they need it. As an office AmeriCorps, I think it’s nice to have that exposure to what Habitat does and how we operate on multiple levels. I think Habitat is very much a people-to-people organization and the “building-side-by-side” model is such a central piece of how Habitat works. I think it only makes sense to continue doing them.” Said Walton.

Habitat for Humanity’s repair program is in place to help low-income homeowners with necessary repairs while teaching volunteers important skills that they can take home with them.

AmeriCorps members in the repairs department take on projects that involve:

  • Roofs
  • Windows and Exterior Doors
  • Gutters
  • Siding
  • Steps, Ramps, Porches, Decks and Retaining Walls
  • Walkways and Driveways
  • Landscaping
  • Brush and Junk Removal
  • Exterior Painting

Habitat is taking in applications on a daily basis to suit the needs of the public. Homes are fixed throughout the week with the help of local volunteers in the area.

Those applying to the program must meet several criteria such as home ownership, willingness to pay, and willingness to partner to be accepted.

The joint build provided a means for AmeriCorps members to come together, build connections, and fix a home in need with a do it together attitude.

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.

AmeriCorps to Habitat: The Nick Jackson Story


Habitat for Humanity is an organization that was founded in 1976 and has gone on to fight poverty and other issues internationally. The organization is altruistic in their mission by creating a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Over time, this message was heard by many and lead to people from all over to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Some go on to make a career with Habitat such as Nick Jackson, a Construction Site Manager at the Tacoma affiliate in Washington State. On a daily basis, Jackson is on site assisting, managing, and constructing housing projects throughout the Tacoma/ Pierce County area.

How did you get involved with Habitat for Humanity?

I first volunteered with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity when I was 15.  My dad organizes a week of volunteers to build at Habitat every summer starting the year I was born.  So, the organization was always a very familiar household name, and when I was old enough to go on site I jumped at the opportunity.  Since then I have been an active volunteer with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, earned a degree in Construction Management, served 3 years as an AmeriCorps Construction Site Coordinator and Project Lead at Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, and most recently was hired on full time as a Construction Site Manager in Tacoma.

What do you find most rewarding about your work with the organization?

Habitat for Humanity has always been an interest of mine and after I began volunteering it became a passion which influenced my college and career choice.  As I’ve progressively become more involved with service and the organization, so has my passion for Habitat’s mission.  The work never gets old because we’re partnering with the homeowners and communities and we’re able to experience a portion of their journey of homeownership.  The most rewarding part for me are the relationships that are built with the homeowners and the sense of community and family that they share.

Where are you from? And why did you Choose to come to Tacoma WA?

My choice to come from Minneapolis, MN to Tacoma, WA was a tough one and initially was meant to be temporary as an opportunity to gain some more hands on experience in residential construction while also serving with Habitat, but once I started my service I was hooked and now it’s been close to 4 years.  While I’m with Habitat I hope that I can positively influence others who are interested in the mission as well as continue working alongside homeowners to achieve their dreams of homeownership.

Where do you hope to see Habitat 5 years from now?

In five years I would hope that Habitat continues to grow in order to combat the housing crisis which is affecting so many.

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.