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Build-a-Thon renews passion for service

AmeriCorps members worked alongside new Habitat homeowner partners all week in rural Wisconsin. Habitat for Humanity International/Jason Asteros

By Kristian Jones 

As most of us AmeriCorps members are rounding off our service terms — with less than three months left — Build-a-Thon is a real, solid reminder of why we serve. 

I never thought I would be laughing, joking and teaching with the most amazing group of people in rural Wisconsin, but that’s exactly what happened. We started out as strangers who had just a little bit in common. Most of us broke the ice wondering what, exactly, were we going to do in northwestern Wisconsin for a whole week? We found out who lived there, and we found out why they loved their hometown and couldn’t wait to own a home there. 

We ate their home-cooked meals and homemade ice cream. And best of all, we got to work alongside them on their own homes and learn just what a profound impact we were having on their lives.  

At our last dinner at the end of the build week, we saw photographs that drove home just how much work we accomplished in one short week. We had surprised ourselves with just how many boards we could carry and how many nails we could hammer, even when our arms were sore from the day before. 

And though I don’t think that Build-a-Thon will profoundly change us from who we were before in our service terms, it will always be a reminder of why we chose to serve in the first place. We come together from all backgrounds to work toward a common goal: ending the problem of substandard housing at home and across the world. Sometimes when we’re serving at our local affiliates, we aren’t able to see the forest for the trees. But Build-a-Thon brought us back and let us see that big picture.  

I have such a feeling of rejuvenation and excitement to get as much out of my remaining service as possible. Looking forward, I can’t wait to serve again at another Habitat affiliate this fall. I’m still a little exhausted from the week, but I’m so grateful to have put my energy into something so worthwhile.

Kristian Jones, a first-year AmeriCorps member, serves as a volunteer coordinator with Habitat for Humanity Kansas City.