AmeriCorps Adventures: Making a Difference for Pittsburgh Homeowners

AmeriCorps Adventures: Making a Difference for Pittsburgh Homeowners

One of the primary advantages to living in Minnesota is that pretty much every place else is warmer in January.  So, when I learned that this year’s Martin Luther King work week was going to be held in Pittsburgh, I was actually pretty excited.  Not only was this going to be an opportunity to meet up with the rest my AmeriCorps class, many of whom I hadn’t seen since our August orientation, but it was also a chance to explore “America’s Most Liveable City.”

The first night in Pittsburgh, we got our assignments and teams for the weeks.   I was pleased to see that I would be at the same home the whole week.  We were going to be painting, hanging drywall, replacing flooring, and making other fairly light cosmetic repairs.  When we got to the home, things changed.  What was originally supposed to be a fairly limited workscope, expanded to include replacing the entire kitchen.  We were only able to fit about four people in the kitchen at once, so the whole task was pretty daunting.  Fortunately, the Rebuilding Together affiliate in Pittsburgh had done a great job of recruiting skilled volunteers to help out at each home, so we worked under the watchful eye of Donnie, our Team Leader.  While we were working in the kitchen, the other half of our team was upstairs.  We had to replace the floor, fix the ceiling in the stairwell, and paint the hall and entryway.  Between all of us, we made pretty short work of that.

By the end of the week, the entire kitchen from the baseboards to the ceiling was new: new paint, new sink, new stove, new cabinets, and a new floor.  The upstairs looked fantastic.  It was also a great opportunity to see how the Pittsburgh affiliate pulled together that many projects.  Together, the AmeriCorps members completed a dozen home repair projects that week.  As we get ready for National Rebuilding Day, this experience will be helpful as we get our projects lined up for April 28th.

To me, the most impressive thing about the entire project was the way the team worked together to make sure the work got finished, but also to make sure that nobody got too burned out.  These were full days, and the work was not easy.  But each member of the team made sure that everyone’s spirits stayed high.  There were jokes, snacks, Beyonce, and power tools.  All in all, it was a great way to reunite with the August class of AmeriCorps members and meet the January class.

By Alex Rosselli, AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator

Welcome New AmeriCorps Members!

We are proud to welcome three new AmeriCorps members to the Rebuilding Together Twin Cities team: Lisa Berglund, Alex Rosselli and Tyler White.

Lisa, AmeriCorps Project Coordinator, will be responsible for managing our home repair projects from start to finish, including previewing the home, developing a workscope, creating a budget, identifying volunteer and material resources needed to complete the home repairs, and supervising the work. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Michigan and recently received a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Design from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.  She has also held several internships and has volunteered for various organizations.

Alex, AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator, will be responsible for recruiting, training, coordinating and retaining volunteers to provide critical home repairs for the homeowners we serve.  Alex recently received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Macalester College in St. Paul.  He has worked on several political campaigns and has experience recruiting and supervising volunteers.  Alex is passionate about affordable housing, education and economic development.

Tyler, AmeriCorps Safe at Home Coordinator, will be responsible for managing all aspects of our Safe at Home program.  Tyler recently received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern Maine. While earning his degree, Tyler worked for the Home Depot, gaining valuable experience and knowledge about home repair and construction.  Tyler also has experience both as a volunteer and an intern for various nonprofit organizations.

Rebuilding Together, Inc. currently has 66 AmeriCorps members serving in 30 Rebuilding Together Affiliates in 20 states. The goal of the CapacityCorps program is to build the capacity of grassroots Rebuilding Together programs so they can be more sustainable, effective, and efficient in helping homeowners in need. This is the fourth year that Rebuilding Together has been awarded an AmeriCorps grant through the Corporation for National and Community Service.