AmeriCorps Perspective: MLK Week of Service Trip

Written by our AmeriCorps Members: Steven Abrams and Jacob Ames

This January, Rebuilding Together held its annual MLK Week of Service in Lafayette, Louisiana, a town hard hit by last August’s massive floods. CapacityCorps members from Rebuilding Together affiliates nationwide converged on Cajun Country, and in conjunction with AmeriCorps members serving locally, performed a wide-range of renovations on a half dozen homes and a local Boys & Girls Club. Jacob was most proud of a ramp he and his team built that provided a homeowner easy access to his shed, while Steven took satisfaction in the role he played in constructing a drainage trench.

After several days of hard work, Steven and Jacob were afforded the opportunity to visit New Orleans for some much welcome R & R. Joined by a dozen other CapacityCorps members, the MLK Week of Service came to a celebratory close in the Crescent City. All told, the project was a major success, with Rebuilding Together CapacityCorps members providing material, as well as emotional uplift, to the aching but undeterred communities of Acadiana.

AmeriCorps Members Travel to Louisiana for Week of Service in Honor of MLK Day

In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps and the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, 65 AmeriCorps members serving with Rebuilding Together, along with program alumni and affiliate leaders, came together from 19 different states for a week of service.

The group repaired eight homes, which were clustered together for maximum impact on the community. We are proud that two of our AmeriCorps members, Kyle Sharp and Chris Lyle, traveled to Lafayette to help these homeowners in need!

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