In January of this past year, I started my service term with AmeriCorps.
AmeriCorps: a federal program that allows young people to serve their country without joining the Peace Corps or without joining the military. Service terms are usually about a year long. Service members are paid below the poverty line and give back to the community in a variety of different ways. Members are not employees or volunteers; they are service members. We do not “volunteer” and we do not get paid. We “serve,” and we receive a “living stipend.”
Upon successful completion of our terms, we receive $5,500 that we can use on education only. I will be using mine on old student loans.
Although many AmeriCorps members are teachers and serve with the program Teach for America, that is only one example of the many different types of programs AmeriCorps has to offer.
There are a total of sixty something AmeriCorps members that work with my organization. The name of my organization is Rebuilding Together. You may have heard it under it’s former name: Christmas in April. It changed the name a while back when it became a national, federally-funded program.
Rebuilding Together is a home rehabilitation program. We provide home repairs for low-income homeowners at no cost to the homeowner.
Rebuilding Together is not the same as Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity:
- builds houses from the ground up,
- requires a certain amount of “sweat equity” from their homeowners,
- charges homeowners a small and reasonable cost for the home, and
- is awesome.
- makes home repairs on existing houses,
- does not require any labor from homeowners or their families,
- does not charge homeowners a dime, and
- is awesome.
And here’s what makes it really confusing: sometimes, Habitat makes home repairs on existing houses, just like what RT does. But we won’t get into that.
Rebuilding Together has roughly 200 affiliates across the nation. The name of mine is Rebuilding Together Central Alabama and is located in Montgomery, Alabama. Mine is a very small affiliate and is in the lowest tier of affiliates as far as funds go. As the Project Developer for RTCA, it is quite the adventure to get any work done without any money.
This is what I’m doing for a total of 11 months. I finish up in early December and will go on to another adventure after this. Most of the AmeriCorps members that serve with RT are in the same boat as me: recent college grads who are looking to serve their country who really don’t care about money but want to go on an adventure somewhere.
Although we like Habitat, we aren’t them. Tell your friends.