AmeriCorps Service Week: Meet Brandon & Mina!
This AmeriCorps Service Week, we’re highlighting some of the AmeriCorps service members that work with Habitat Chesapeake to bring affordable homeownership to more communities and families across Central Maryland.
Meet Mina! Mina has been serving in AmeriCorps for the past year with Habitat Chesapeake as a Construction Crew Leader and Volunteer Coordinator. Like Brandon, who we shared about in the above video, Mina works on construction sites with volunteers and crew members to help complete homes for future first-time homebuyers.
After graduating from Fairmont University in West Virginia with a degree in architecture, Mina decided to explore her career options from a different angle.
“I was like, well let me go out and try different aspects where it actually relates to my degree and see what exactly I want to do with it,” she says. After interning at the city planning department, where she gained knowledge about permits and urban planning, she applied to a position with AmeriCorps based on a friend’s experience. “It was something that was related to my degree that I could get more knowledge of, and if I actually decided to stick with architecture, I knew I would have more of a background.”
Mina didn’t know that this position would involve so much more than just construction – learning how to work with volunteers and crews onsite was a truly unique experience. “[It] really teaches me a lot about actually putting a house together and how it looks compared to a drawing. With the volunteer management, I think I learned about a lot more of communications and stuff and getting things to work in an actual office and office setting.”
According to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the U.S. construction industry faces a workforce shortage of at least 650,000 skilled individuals. Volunteers and AmeriCorps service members like Mina help ameliorate that labor shortage during a time of rising construction costs.
Habitat Chesapeake benefits every day from the important work that volunteers do, from building homes to serving customers in the ReStores. Volunteers help cut back on the costs of construction and running the Restores, allowing that much more of our resources and donated funds to go toward building homes for potential homebuyers.
“I think there’s many different aspects that I enjoyed working with different volunteer groups,” says Mina, describing how different groups create different experiences and contribute different skills each time. “Glen Mar (Church)’s long term-volunteers, I think I enjoyed working with them, because they were skilled. They knew what they were doing and I was also learning.” Habitat Chesapeake has many other amazing volunteer groups, like Broadneck High School, described by Mina as “very vocal” and inspiring a “lighter atmosphere” that made the hours fly by.
AmeriCorps members also work onsite and alongside future homebuyers, who are working to complete their sweat equity hours. “Working with them I guess I I would say I’ve learned like their backgrounds, but like I, I think it’s really inspiring to see them like be so excited and happy about getting their house,” Mina says. Habitat homebuyers benefit from a 0% interest, affordable mortgage, and as part of their partnership, they complete 250 sweat equity hours in place of traditional equity. As a result, Habitat staff and volunteers get to spend time with our homebuyers and get to know their hopes for the future as a homeowner.
“I think it does resonate with me. It wasn’t really what I expected. The mission was to help people get housing and that really stood out to me,” she says.
Would she recommend that others serve with AmeriCorps, and work with organizations like Habitat Chesapeake? Absolutely. “You learn a lot of different skills. You can get to know people. I think this position is perfect for someone who just got out of college. You learn a lot and it’s a good transition.”
Thank you again to AmeriCorps and our AmeriCorps service members for sharing their skills and serving our communities! Visit the AmeriCorps website to learn more about how AmeriCorps supports your community and check out HabiCorps to learn about our unique AmeriCorps workforce development program.
About Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake
Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake (www.habitatchesapeake.org) brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Since 1982, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has built more than 780 homes in 19 communities, providing a brighter future for 2,700 children and family members. Homeownership is proven to transform lives – improving health, increasing children’s chances of academic success and offering an opportunity to build wealth across generations. Likewise, homeownership enhances neighborhoods by bringing tangible investment, engaged, long-term residents, rising property values and a sense of community.
Above: AmeriCorps service members have a long tradition of serving with Habitat affiliates to help them provide more affordable homes. Below: Brandon and Mina (left) direct volunteers on Eager Street.