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.

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