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AmeriCorps Stories & Testimonials

Amy Smith

Amy Smith
Position and Years Served:

AmeriCorps Construction Crew Lead, 2021-2022

How You Found Out About AmeriCorps and First Impressions:

I actually wanted to do AmeriCorps for a really long time. It’s something I wanted to do in college, but when I graduated I was scared of student debt, so I kind of went straight into the workforce. I worked at an architecture firm for six years...I got tired being stuck behind a desk and my life finances looked a little bit different, so I said, "Hey, why not go for it." I had a few interactions with Habitat before…

I thought [AmeriCorps] was a really great program. I know a lot of people overlook it. I know it’s intimidating. The living stipend - many have done it, many have done it before us. Many of the current [Habitat] crew leads were at one time also AmeriCorps, and they were able to stretch their pennies. I think it’s great. It gives you an understanding of the whole picture, of what’s going on in our country…not just because most of the AmeriCorps programs are targeted at underserved populations, but it gives you a glimpse of who these people are. Everyone makes assumptions, but these are working families that work jobs just like you or I, their life just looks a little different.

Most Valuable Accomplishments and Memories:

I love that I was able to start working on a house, the Women Build house actually, from foundation to when we turned over the keys…[it] was a really cool thing. I know sometimes you can get jumped around to wherever the need is, but doing something from beginning to end was really cool…and working with the women with the Women Build was a really cool thing to be a part of.

I think what was cool was that in the beginning, I was always really nervous and I was triple - quadruple - checking, “Am I doing this thing right?” By the end, I felt really confident to say, “Ok, volunteers, here’s what we’re gonna do.” That was a really cool feeling. I feel like when you’re young in a professional industry, you feel nervous that you’re not sure of everything, and I was surprised at how quickly I was able to figure that out over my time.

Biggest Take-Aways:

I think getting an even deeper understanding of who these people are that Habitat and AmeriCorps are trying to serve. A lot of them are single parents that work sometimes decently paying jobs, but it’s still hard to make those ends meet...I was able to buy a house really young myself, and now that I get older and I see my friends and family buying houses - I bought my home in a very different economy and [my] home, if I wanted it to, is well below my means and will serve me for the rest of my life. That has allowed me to do things in my personal life that a lot of my friends, family, and other people can’t because I have stable, secure housing, and I see how much that means.

Where Are You Now?

When I was finishing up my AmeriCorps year, I still really loved architecture. I wanted the ability to be creative again, though I liked the hands-on aspect. I was lucky enough to find an opening with Eastland Fairfield Career Technical School…they have a two-year architecture program, it’s a two-year junior-senior program. That has been a wild ride. I think had I not done Habitat, I probably would’ve given up after the first year, but being able to get in front of a group and say “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do today” -  having that confidence completely came from my AmeriCorps experience.

I’m also really involved in my community. I do serve on my local city council, it’s not as big of a deal as people make it out to be... It’s been cool to be involved in that while we’ve seen two really big multi-family affordable projects come to our city, where there’s a lot of push back. I’ve been able to state the reasons why this is needed, and that also has come from my experience with Habitat.

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