You are here

AmeriCorps member sings the praises of Habitat at Build-a-Thon

By Julie Gurnon


Adam Hunter, a classically trained singer, picked up construction skills from his father.
Photo by Allen Sullivan


Adam Hunter sees perfect harmony in being a singer and being a house-builder.

“Most homeowners only see the finished product,” he said. “They don’t see the work that goes into it. That’s similar to a singer or any instrumentalist. You have a concert or program lined up for six months ahead, and you work six or eight hours every day in the practice room. All the general public ever sees is the finished product.”

Hunter, 23, participated in the 2012 AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon in Dallas, Texas, this week. He graduated last year from Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., with a bachelor’s degree in music education. One requirement for his degree was to sing an hourlong solo in four languages, with only a piano to accompany him.

Rather than launching his music career after graduating, Hunter signed up to become an AmeriCorps construction team leader with Habitat for Humanity Choptank in Easton, Md.

He wanted to see places outside southeast Florida, he said, and he needed to take a break from the academic grind — in his words, “to do music as an avocation and not a vocation.”

But Hunter’s decision to join AmeriCorps had even more to do with his affinity for Habitat for Humanity. He and his three older siblings grew up in a Habitat home his parents purchased in 1993 in Lynn Haven, Fla.

“When I was looking into the program, I discovered that AmeriCorps had this incredibly strong partnership with Habitat for Humanity that I didn’t even know existed,” he said. “That sealed it for me. I understand firsthand just how strong the Habitat mission is, and I really felt called to give back to that.”

The family’s Habitat house was designed to accommodate Hunter’s mother, Marie, who contracted polio at a young age and uses a wheelchair.

She became “a symbol of strength and humility” for Hunter. Whenever he has a rough day, he thinks of what she has overcome.

His father, George, a Vietnam veteran who served as an airplane mechanic in Cambodia and Thailand, retired from the Air Force shortly before Hunter was born. He got a job supervising the maintenance of about 150 rental houses, and Hunter started working with him every summer from the time he was 11.

“He did everything from HVAC, shingling and fixing leaks to rough framing and electrical,” Hunter said.

Hunter picked up construction skills that serve him well today. He is keeping his musical skills sharp, as well, during his AmeriCorps service. He joined the choir at St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Easton after moving there, and he is a member of a professional ensemble known as the Tidewater Singers.

After serving one more year in AmeriCorps at a different location, Hunter most likely will pursue a graduate degree in choral and orchestral conducting.

Building, however, will always be an avocation for him, and he hopes to use all he’s learned to build his own small house someday.

The Habitat home he grew up in — now 19 years old — is still in great shape, he said.

“The roof has never been replaced; there are no cracks or major structural issues; there’s no leaking,” he said. “It’s really a well-built home.”

The secret is in the prep work, just like singing an opera.

Julie Gurnon is NSP2 writer/editor at Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Georgia.