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Locations selected for 2012 AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon

Members will work with one of four affiliates getting Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 funds

By Julie Gurnon

Sites and dates have been approved for the 2012 AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon, even as Habitat for Humanity’s latest group of AmeriCorps members begin a new year of service this month.

Next year, 400 AmeriCorps members — 300 National Direct and 100 VISTA — are expected to spend May 13-26 pouring their energy and passion into volunteer work at one of the following affiliates: Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity (Texas), Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (California), Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity (Wisconsin) and Pensacola Habitat for Humanity (Florida).

These four affiliates are among the seven partnering with Habitat for Humanity International on the second phase of the federally funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The program partners with state and local governments and nonprofits to help reverse the decline in neighborhoods severely affected by foreclosures and abandonment.




One of Habitat Milwaukee’s construction supervisors, John Cunningham (at left in green shirt) and ReStore staff member Mike Jones (at right in green shirt) give AmeriCorps members instructions during the second week of the 2011 Build-a-Thon, May 15-21. The affiliate has been selected as one of four event sites for the 2012 Build-a-Thon.

The Milwaukee and Pensacola affiliates were among the eight event sites of the 2011 Build-a-Thon. Peter Rumsey Jr., HFHI’s director of National Service, said he was so inspired by watching AmeriCorps members build the first five homes in a Pensacola subdivision funded partially by NSP2, that he and his colleagues pitched the idea of holding the 2012 Build-a-Thon at NSP2 affiliates to Jeff Pope, HFHI’s director of neighborhood revitalization, under a tent at the Pensacola construction site.

“Seeing this large stretch of land that will eventually include 114 Habitat homes brought home the bold growth goals that Habitat’s NSP2 partner affiliates are undertaking,” Rumsey said.

With wholehearted support from Pope and Donna Golden, HFHI’s director of government grants and lending resources, Rumsey invited the NSP2 affiliates to apply during a conference call in June.

Each affiliate already has provided general objectives for the 2012 Build-a-Thon, and contracts should be finalized within the next few weeks, said Maureen O’Leary, Habitat’s assistant director of National Service. The construction sites and schedules won’t be confirmed until two months before the event.

During the first week of the Build-a-Thon, AmeriCorps members will travel to Milwaukee and Pensacola. For the second week, other members will travel to Dallas and Los Angeles.

In Milwaukee, AmeriCorps members will help build 15 two-story NSP-assisted homes. Build-a-Thon will coincide with the affiliate’s Blitz Framing Week.

AmeriCorps members in Pensacola will help build eight NSP-assisted homes, with 10 members participating in a community outreach project.

In Dallas, members are scheduled to help build 18 NSP2-assisted homes, and tentative plans for Los Angeles include rehabilitating five to six homes.

Rumsey said the contracted event sites will be announced to AmeriCorps members at the National Service Leadership Conference on Oct. 24-28 in Talladega, Alabama. A representative from each affiliate will meet with their assigned groups, giving the AmeriCorps members an opportunity to learn about the affiliate’s work in the community and meet other volunteers they will work alongside.

Jennifer Knoeber, director of volunteer services at Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, said she’s eager to welcome the AmeriCorps members.

“The members bring an energy and enthusiasm that’s impossible to ignore,” she said. “They put their whole heart and soul into what they do, and their ability to sacrifice for the good of others truly humbles me.”

Julie Gurnon is NSP2 writer/editor for Program Communications, based in Americus.