Moving On: AmeriCorps Term of Service Ends

Rebuilding Together Twin Cities was incredibly fortunate to have Kelly Bandman, Tim Erkel and Brent Suski serve as AmeriCorps Project Coordinators with us over the last year.  Their terms of service ended this month, and we would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication.

Tim will be continuing his AmeriCorps service with the Rebuilding Together affiliate in Seattle.  Both Brent and Kelly plan to stay in the Twin Cities and continue working in the nonprofit world, helping people in need and working to improve the quality of their lives.

Kelly, Tim and Brent have been incredible to work with over the last year.  Your hard work, dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm for our mission have proven invaluable.  Best of luck with this next chapter of your lives!

AmeriCorps Adventures: Kelly Bandman on Making a Difference

What does it mean to make a difference? What does spending a year in service mean? These were both questions I pondered as I began my year with AmeriCorps and Rebuilding Together. Now, a mere month later, I am humbled by the largeness of our world. I have only begun to discover the answers to my questions, but my greatest realization comes from this newfound recognition; despite the seemingly huge task Rebuilding Together has taken on, I plainly see these comparatively small gestures making a remarkable difference on the whole.

I used to think of the singular person as insignificant. In a world of billions of people, how could one person even matter? Well, my first project as a CapacityCorps member has opened my eyes to how one person can indeed make that difference.

On my first home preview with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, I met a young woman named Natoya. Sitting down with this stranger, I quickly began to realize the truly inspirational person I was meeting. This hard working young mother is the first person in her family to own her own home; a goal she set for herself at the age of 15, and accomplished at the age of 24. I was blown away by her determination and courage.

Listed on Natoya’s application were a number of home repairs she was unable to complete on her own, but the one item she clearly held above the rest was the need for a privacy fence. As a mother with three young children, she was overjoyed with the idea that we could do anything for her, but the fence was the one thing she felt was most necessary.

Heading back to the Rebuilding Together Twin Cities office, I had the feeling that we needed to find the resources for her project. For the first time I felt, as a single person, I could affect change, but I wouldn’t be able to do it alone.

I am happy to say that we have found resources for Natoya’s project. In addition to installing a privacy fence, we are planning to improve a few other areas of Natoya’s home to help her family stay safe and healthy. On top of that, through a referral from our organization, the old windows in her home are being replaced by ClearCorps at no cost to Natoya.

I know that with this story, the one person making a difference is not me, but the homeowner I am working with. As much as we worked together to help her, she alone has made the biggest difference. Without her initiation, I wouldn’t be able to be a part of her story. Without her perseverance, her children couldn’t play safely outside. She has taught me that through serving each other, every person has the ability to make a difference. I couldn’t wait to share her story and my new outlook on service with the volunteers when work on Natoya’s project began on Tuesday, September 18. As only my first project of many, I’m looking forward to the multitude of opportunities to assist others on their journey to change the world through listening, sharing, encouragement, and most of all working together.

By Kelly Bandman, AmeriCorps Project Coordinator

Welcome New AmeriCorps Members!

We are proud to welcome three new AmeriCorps members to the Rebuilding Together Twin Cities team: Kelly Bandman, Tim Erkel and Brent Suski.

Kelly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College in Iowa.  She has extensive experience working with groups of children of all ages as a camp counselor, program coordinator and student teacher.  Kelly’s background is in the performing arts, which provided her the opportunity to work with volunteers and gain construction experience.  She has a passion for community service and is excited about working with communities in need.

Tim holds a Bachelors degree in Political Science and Classics from Macalaster College.  Most recently, he worked as a Business Licensing intern for the City of Minneapolis.  He also interned with HOME Line, a nonprofit focused on renter’s rights, where he worked on public policy issues to help level the playing field between renters and landlords.  Last year, Tim stepped in to volunteer as our Volunteer Coordinator after our AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator couldn’t complete his full term of service.  Tim has been volunteering with us on a full-time basis since mid-February.

Brent recently completed a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota.  He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gustavus Adolphus College.  Brent has contributed to several large-scale rebuilding projects in Haiti that centered on community building and engagement.  He served as a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota and volunteered for Art Buddies at Bancroft Elementary School in Minneapolis.

This is the fifth year that Rebuilding Together has been awarded an AmeriCorps grant through the Corporation for National and Community Service.  The goal of the AmeriCorps 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.  Welcome Kelly, Tim and Brent!