HabiCorps Spotlight: Meet Star
As part of our celebration of the many faces of Habitat, we want to highlight several of the hard-working individuals who have partnered with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake’s HabiCorps program, like Star. Despite delays and challenges presented by COVID-19, Star and ten of her fellow classmates celebrated their graduation from the HabiCorps training program in August.
“The program all-in-all was a very great experience,” says Star, who completed the 10.5 program in the spring. “You’re getting paid to learn, and getting paid to acquire a skill, or multiple skills, because you’re learning a little bit of everything.”
Since 2016, the HabiCorps, an AmeriCorps Workforce Development Program, has partnered with Trainees to offer meaningful, hands-on training in construction trades to individuals facing significant employment barriers. Trainees work in small teams led by skilled instructors on projects ranging from new construction to complete gut rehabilitation. From building front steps, to installing drywall, to interpreting blueprints, Star not only partnered with instructor Rick Campbell to learn specialized skills, but also left her mark on a city she calls home.
Born in East Baltimore, Star helped build six homes in Milton-Montford, just blocks away from where she was raised. Habitat Chesapeake broke ground in Milton-Montford’s 2500 block of East Eager Street in 2018, with plans to rehab an additional four in the coming year. For Star, providing a safe place for individuals and families to call home is more than a worthy cause – it’s also a dream that she wants to pursue using the skills learned from the program. “I want to build a tiny home community for the homeless because it’s hard for them to get off the street and find a job when they don’t have an address.”
As a young, Black woman in construction, Star also hopes to inspire and encourage women to explore the trades and use these skills to improve their communities. Through the HabiCorps program, Star was able to build homes in the neighborhood where her family lives, offering a hand-up for community members while empowering her own career. The construction and contracting trades are largely male-dominated fields, so according to Star, it’s not just about investing in the community, but in yourself, too. “It’s a great opportunity…if you really get in there and apply yourself, if you want to learn, you can learn a lot.”
HabiCorps works to build homes and lasting change in communities, and Trainees like Star carry on that work. All Trainees serve as Americorps Service members, who complete 1700 service hours and earn a living allowance and benefits while building homes that transform lives and underserved communities. Upon completion of the program, Trainees receive an educational award that can be used toward apprenticeships or college, as well as job placement assistance. Now graduated from the program, Star hopes to use her education award to apply for apprenticeship programs to further her dream of providing tiny homes for the homeless.
“I really appreciated the experience,” Star says of her time spent contributing to homes and revitalization efforts along East Eager Street. “I’ve learned a lot, personally as well as professionally, and I’ve grown in both areas.”
If you or someone you know might be interested in learning a trade through the HabiCorps Workforce program, find out more information by visiting https://www.habitatchesapeake.org/work/habicorps
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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 770 homes in 18 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.
It’s a great opportunity…if you really get in there and apply yourself, if you want to learn, you can learn a lot.
Above: Star masks up and poses with several of her fellow HabiCorps team members. Below: Star works on several projects on build sites throughout Milton-Montford.