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My AmeriCorps Story: Homeowner Services

For two years, Emily Woods served as Honolulu Habitat’s AmeriCorps Homeowner Services Coordinator helping families navigate their journey toward homeownership. In her time with Habitat, she expanded our community outreach, improved our program efficiencies, and left a permanent mark on the hearts of those around her.  

This is Emily’s AmeriCorps Story: 

I discovered AmeriCorps at the end of my senior year at Temple University in Pennsylvania. I was facing the ‘big life question’ all graduates confront as their academic career winds down: “What am I going to do with my life?”  

I knew two things for certain:  First: I wanted to help people. Second: I needed a little adventure; I wanted to experience a place very different from the fast-paced life in Philadelphia. 

At the time I was interning at a local nonprofit organization. When I shared these thoughts with my supervisor, and she began describing her own transformational experience as an AmeriCorps Service Member. From that moment on, I was hooked. I spent days scrolling through hundreds of opportunities listed on AmeriCorps.gov and finally stumbled across an opening with Honolulu Habitat for Humanity.  

The position not only fulfilled my criteria to help others and experience a change in scenery, but it would also provided an opportunity to translate my degree in Adult & Organizational Development into the workforce. I knew this was the path I wanted to embark on and I didn’t have to think twice about hitting that “Apply” button. 

In my role as the Homeowner Services Coordinator, I drove the growth and efficiency of our Home Build and Home Maintenance programs, resulting in a record number of applications received and families approved for Habitat’s programs.  

In addition to managing homeowner programs, I also had the opportunity to work cross-departmentally to streamline our processes together, provide educational opportunities for the public, and gained a wealth of knowledge about construction, resource development and volunteer engagement. While these opportunities provided immeasurable professional development, the personal growth was just as rewarding. 

©️ Howard Wolff Photography ⁠

Immersing myself in the Islands’ vibrant culture allowed me to discover a unique perspective that many non-local residents experience while living in Hawaii. From witnessing traditional Kahu blessings of the ‘aina at our Groundbreaking and Home Dedication Ceremonies, learning the history and struggles our ‘ohana have faced to protect their ancestral home, and gaining aunties and uncles along the way, the drive to help my newfound community came easily. Providing safe, decent and affordable housing is Honolulu Habitat’s mission, and seeing it all come together and watch our ‘ohana begin their next chapter in life was the true highlight of my experience. 

Aloha Aku, Aloha Mai, Aloha E – Give Love, Receive Love, Love Abundant”  

What is AmeriCorps? 

AmeriCorps is the federal agency connecting individuals and organizations to tackle the nation’s most pressing challenges.  

AmeriCorps focuses on these key areas to make an impact: economic opportunity, disaster response, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families. Every year, more than 270,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers are placed with organizations across the country. 

In partnership with local Habitat organizations, Habitat places AmeriCorps members to serve in a variety of roles to increase Habitat’s ability to build homes, engage communities, build capacity and increase productivity. 

Honolulu Habitat for Humanity is currently accepting applications for an AmeriCorps Volunteer Services Coordinator. Click here for more information.  

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