Thursday, September 18, 2014

Many Faces of AmeriCorps: Meet Angela!

Angela Calabro - Malverne, NY - 26 - Site Supervisor with SBP

A little bit about Angela: 

Prior to her AmeriCorps term, Angela had been working in a specialized industry for several years and decided she wanted to explore different career options.  She felt that a year of service would be beneficial and allow her ton continue to be productive while having new experiences during this time of discovery and transition.  She grew up on Long Island but was not in the country when Sandy hit.  She wanted to get involved in a more substantial way than just occasional volunteering, which is why she chose to serve in the Rockaways.  

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I have been the Site Supervisor on three homes to date, however my biggest accomplishment was the second.  We had several complications but I felt the general rebuild process went well and I was able to physically see how my role as Site Supervisor was critical in bringing the family home making all other issues seem unimportant.  

Talk about a time you felt very connected to the vision: 

I felt very connected to the mission when I first was in training.  Our Project Manager at the time did an excellent job of team building and supporting us while teaching the appropriate skills needed to work on houses.  He allowed us to feel like members of a larger support system that although not perfect would be there to allow us to be as productive and successful as possible.  

Why do you think service is important?

Service is important in order to realize the bigger picture of what is going on in neighborhoods we aren’t familiar with.  Service allows us to put our own lives in perspective and give back to communities that are in need.  We never know where our own paths may take us and although we hope to never need it, one day we may find ourselves in seeking a little assistance.  Service is also crucial to enabling school children who have not been exposed to different experiences and settings to be pushed far out of their comfort zone and continuously supported until they accomplish the task. 

What have you gained from serving in AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps has shown me how there will always be new projects and tasks that seem daunting to learn i.e. rebuilding a house, however if broken down into smaller steps and practiced almost anything is possible to learn.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Many Faces of AmeriCorps: Meet Mike!

Spotlight on: Mike Hamilton, 69 - Veteran, Retired Electrician – Electrician for SBP

Mike retired to Joplin to take care of his mother, but after the devastating tornadoes he saw the overwhelming need for his skill as an electrician.  Mike was also able to share his love of landscaping and gardening with our clients – putting the finishing touch on our clients’ homes.

Mike, why do you think Service is important? It’s important because people are important, ad if they are trying to recover then we should help.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?  Whenever I finish a house and it is turned over to the owners…but mostly when I finish a garden or landscape a yard and make it a home instead of a house.

You volunteered with Catholic Charities and Habitat for Humanity and served 2 terms with AmeriCorps.  What have you gained from serving others? A lifetime of memories and a sense of being a part of something important.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Many Faces of AmeriCorps: Meet Julie!

Spotlight on: Julie Balsamo, 23 - Teacher from Pittsburgh, PA - Site Supervisor for SBP

With a teaching degree, certified for grades 5-12, Julie put lesson plans on hold to serve with AmeriCorps to help the recovery effort in Staten Island, NY, one of many communities devastated by Superstorm Sandy.  As a Site Supervisor for St. Bernard Project, Julie was trained to learn construction skills over 6 weeks and then spent the next 8 months training volunteers to do everything from framing to hanging drywall to laying flooring.

Julie, why did you decide to serve with AmeriCorps? I wanted to go somewhere I have never lived and learn new skills before I settled down with a career.  My AmeriCorps term allowed me to live in NYC, learn construction and encounter people and perspectives from all over the country.

Talk about a time you felt very connected to the mission:  On one site where I worked, the homeowner came by nearly every day and worked alongside us. We got to know each other quite well, and I was so inspired by her dedication to get back to her home. I was no longer just working to build a house for someone I barely knew, I was working to get my friend and her family home.

Why do you think service is important? If we had not been there to work on these houses, it is likely they would not have been rebuilt any time soon. So many homeowners were victims of contractor fraud. Our service not only had an impact on homeowners and the surrounding communities, but also on the volunteers who were inspired by their own impact and that of volunteers who had come before them.  I have countless stories and takeaway moments that have shown me people’s incredible resilience and ability to give.