Celebrating the AmeriCorps members who have helped strengthen our community through a year of service.
AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs, made up of three primary programs that each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement. Members commit their time to address critical community needs like increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty. Sustaining national parks, preparing for disasters, and more.
AmeriCorps VISTA members go where the need is greatest: to communities facing poverty, inequity, and unemployment. VISTA members serve in a professional setting building partnerships, writing grants, and organizing volunteers. Above all, VISTA members are catalysts for change, working to advance local solutions.
AmeriCorps State & National members engage in a diverse range of service projects at local, regional, and national organizations to address critical community needs of disaster services, economic opportunity, education, healthy futures, environmental stewardship and veterans, and military families.
AmeriCorps programs do more than move communities forward; they serve their members by creating jobs and providing pathways to opportunity as they enter the workforce. AmeriCorps places thousands of people into intensive service positions where they learn valuable skills, earn money for education, and develop a strong sense of civic responsibility.
AmeriCorps Week 2019 (March 10-16, 2019) is a celebration of all things AmeriCorps – from the programs and organizations that make this national service initiative possible in thousands of locations, to the members who have pledged to "Get Things Done" since the program's inception in 1994.
Join us as we celebrate our current and a few of our past AmeriCorps Members here at Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County.
ReStore Development VISTA
Service Year 2018-2019
When starting her AmeriCorps journey, Natalie knew she didn't want to be stuck behind a desk all day. Anyone that meets Natalie can tell you that would not have been the right fit. Our bubbly ReStore Development VISTA is the perfect person to greet and train our ReStore volunteers. When she isn't training or leading a tour, Natalie updates the ReStore Facebook and Instagram accounts with the newest inventory and sales. Have you joined the ReStore DIY Facebook group yet? That's another of Nat's many projects during her time at Habitat Waukesha. She does occasionally have to sit in the office when managing the ReStore schedule, but Natalie balances her time and enjoys working with the team.
Working with communities and the community service volunteers we have at the ReStore is something that Natalie really enjoys. "Watching them go from resentful to actually enjoying their experience as a volunteer is a truly amazing sight." Natalie feels her time at Habitat for Humanity has grown her communication and problem-solving skills. After her service year, Natalie plans to attend law school. "I thought about doing another year as VISTA, but law school is calling my name." Her dream is to become a public defender or prosecutor. Also, Natalie would love to get a puppy, even though she's allergic!
When asked what advice Natalie would offer those interested in becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA she said, " Understand that you won't be able to make all the changes you want. You're working with a nonprofit and there are limitations in what you can do. Make sure you believe in the mission of the organization you are working with. It will make the bad days better."
Marketing and Social Media VISTA
2018-2019 Service Year
Have you ever liked, retweeted or shared a post from Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County? Then you've no doubt seen the impact of our VISTA Megan Meerman. She is the genius behind our social media platforms, marketing, and website management. Megan knows how to jump into any project with a smile. The interviews of our Habitat partner families are also written by Megan and she has loved getting to know them and the volunteers that work on the homes and in the ReStore.
Megan discovered the VISTA program after looking for ways to use her marketing degree outside of her home state of Michigan. When she found the position in Waukesha, she knew it was something she wanted to do. Starting the position was stressful but after finding her place in the team Megan has excelled and created valuable contributions like the marketing manual she developed. "It's an exciting opportunity to learn and grow with this organization."
After her term ends, Megan plans to return home and find a position in the nonprofit marketing field using the skills she has gained from the VISTA program. Things she will miss most? Taking walking breaks around the office with the other VISTA, Maria. Things we will miss about Megan? HER AMAZING CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES and her positive energy for our mission!
When asked what advice she would give to someone looking into the AmeriCorps VISTA program, Megan said "Find a position that can help build the skills you already have. The experience is meant to benefit both you and the organization you are working with."
Construction Systems VISTA
2018-2019 Service Year
As the main contact between volunteer groups and our construction staff, Maria is a crucial player in our daily operations. Maria, with the help of many cups of tea, works with the construction crew leaders to schedule group builds, collect waivers, and keep everyone informed on what is happening on the build site. She also works with the ReStore Development VISTA Natalie, to create and implement strategies for volunteer management systems both in the ReStore and on the construction site.
Maria previously served with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Vermont during the 2017-2018 service year and was ready to come back to her home state to serve for her second term. Maria loved the idea of working with volunteers and helping to coordinate projects. "I did a lot of fundraising last year with only a small amount of volunteer coordination, but I really enjoyed it." When Maria found the position for the Construction Systems VISTA here in Waukesha she knew it was what she wanted. Maria enjoys visiting the construction site to meet the volunteers working on the homes and planning appreciation events for them.
When asked what advice Maria would give to those interested in AmeriCorps she said "Know what you are getting yourself into. It's a time commitment, you agree to a full year of service and it can get very stressful. It's worth it in the end when you are able to look back at what you've done and know the impact you have made."
AmeriCorps National- Construction Crew Leader
2016-2017 Service Year
Now: Construction Site Supervisor
Bryan is a great example of how you can turn a year of service into something more. Bryan started his journey with Habitat Waukesha at the ReStore as an associate. He found himself doing a lot of different tasks, from cashiering to pickups and even managing the deconstruction service. While Bryan enjoyed his time at the ReStore he knew he wanted to move over to the construction side of things. AmeriCorps National gave him the opportunity to work on the construction site learning new skills. Having been on two sides of the process, Bryan understands Habitat's mission from multiple perspectives. He knows how each aspect comes together to create an impact on the community.
During his term as an AmeriCorps National, he served as a Construction Crew Leader where he worked alongside the volunteers building homes. Bryan was told that the home dedication for the first home he competed would be an emotional moment, but the dedication came and went and Bryan didn't get emotional. Then he went back to the home for a warranty repair. After seeing the home he worked on, being well lived in Bryan couldn't help but get emotional. "It was awesome! You could tell that they loved their home and being a part of that was an amazing experience."
Bryan loved this work so much that after his service year, he signed on as full-time Construction Site Supervisor. "I love my job and the difference we are making." Bryan now spends his work days delegating tasks and helping the volunteers complete the homes.
When asked if he had any advice for those interested in becoming an AmeriCorps National, Bryan said "There's going to be a learning curve, so be prepared. Learn about the options you have with your Education Award and budget, budget, budget."
Volunteer Coordinator VISTA
2014-2015 Service Year
Currently: Operations Manager
Just two weeks before the grand opening of our ReStore in 2014, Ben began his journey as our Volunteer Coordinator VISTA. His quick wit and humor allowed him to easily work with staff members as we went from just a handful of volunteers to a full staff at the ReStore. Ben became a jack of all trades early on in his time with us, from cashiering at the ReStore, to scheduling group build days, and even ordering materials for the site.
During college, Ben was involved with his campus' chapter of Habitat for Humanity and enjoyed volunteering with everyone there. His senior year of college he learned about AmeriCorps and the positions they provided we Habitat he knew it was something he wanted to do. During his term, Ben focused mainly on recruiting volunteers and organizing groups. Ben worked alongside two other VISTAs as they helped the organization grow and still keeps in touch years later.
Then, when his term was up he was offered the position of Operations Manager. "I made connections with the volunteers and other members of the community, and it felt like a good fit," said Ben when asked about his decision to stay on with Habitat Waukesha. "I saw a lot of room for growth within the organization."
When asked about advice he'd have for anyone interested in becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA Ben said, "Commit yourself to the full year and the full experience. Embrace the challenges you face during your year of service, you never know where it will lead you."