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AmeriCorps Works for Habitat for Humanity

by Robert Velasco, II

Today, to celebrate AmeriCorps Week, I served with a group of volunteers – including five enthusiastic AmeriCorps members – at a Habitat for Humanity build site in Washington, DC.

We sanded, painted and put the finishing touches on the trim work of a new, affordable three-bedroom family home in the Ivy City neighborhood of Northeast Washington. Habitat for Humanity of Washington D.C. began building here two years ago to help revive this neighborhood – one of the oldest and most challenged in the city. By the time this home is finished, the new owner will have served hundreds of hours themselves.

Habitat has helped to build over half a million homes like this one around the world.

When the Corporation for National and Community Service opened its doors in 1994, Habitat became an early partner. It was a natural fit. Habitat relies on committed volunteers to realize its vision for “a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” and AmeriCorps members pledge to “get things done.” That year, they inducted 122 members to serve in the very first class of AmeriCorps.

Nearly two decades later, we remain committed partners. This year more than 550 AmeriCorps members serve through Habitat in more than 180 communities across the country.

Since that inaugural class, more than 7,000 AmeriCorps members have served with Habitat – and with great impact. Through more than 12 million hours of service, they have served more than 15,000 families across the country, raised tens of millions of dollars in cash and in-kind resources, and mobilized more than 2.5 million volunteers.

AmeriCorps works for Habitat in another powerful way – fostering their next generation of leaders. One third of the DC Habitat staff are AmeriCorps alums, and across the country hundreds of alums serve as Habitat staff, board members, donors, and advocates.

As Habitat's CEO Jonathan Reckford said, “Our work with AmeriCorps allows us to benefit from and develop compassionate young leaders who are committed to serving their communities. The passion and leadership AmeriCorps members invest in Habitat today will only strengthen this ministry tomorrow.”

Because Habitat and the Corporation for National and Community Service joined together, more Americans have a decent place to live – including the family that will own the home where we served today.

The impact of this longstanding partnership is an outstanding example of what we have highlighted this AmeriCorps week, and will continue to demonstrate in the future: AmeriCorps Works.

Robert Velasco, II is the Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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