Saying Goodbye to our AmeriCorps Members

Today, we say goodbye to our fantastic team of AmeriCorps members. AmeriCorps is a program through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) that engages more than 80,000 Americans each year in service activities. AmeriCorps members tackle pressing problems in communities by engaging in an intensive year of service. Habitat for Humanity partners with CNCS to place AmeriCorps members in Habitat affiliates throughout the U.S. Members serve in numerous roles that include home construction, family services, and resource development.

Beaches Habitat was blessed to have 9 members serve in 2016-2017. During their service, our members completed construction on 29 new homes, lead volunteers in more than 27,000 service hours, established new procedures for mortgage regulation compliance and led a group of ten students in a community service project that resulted in a donation of 200 backpacks to the Sulzbacher HOPE Team  – just to name a few things!

As we send our members on to their next challenge, all of us at Beaches Habitat would like to say thank you. You have been a blessing to the families we serve, an inspiration to the volunteers who have worked beside you, and great friends to the staff. You will be missed!



Rudy HawkesRudy is finishing his first year of AmeriCorps Service. With Beaches Habitat he served as a Construction Crew Leader where he was given a great opportunity to further develop his leadership skills. He also worked with volunteers to create an environment where everyone had fun and left with a sense of accomplishment.

One of his favorite experiences while serving at Beaches Habitat was attending the Build-a-Thon in Iowa. Each year the current AmeriCorps members and alumni travel to a city to help a Habitat for Humanity affiliate meet the need for adequate housing in their community. Rudy enjoyed the opportunity to meet and reconnect with AmeriCorps members from around the country.

Since his time with Beaches Habitat is over, Rudy is heading to New York where he will serve another year as a Construction Crew Leader with a New York Habitat affiliate. Rudy hopes that living in New York will provide him with a great environment to keep working on his photography and media interests, which he will one day turn into his own company. He plans on coming down to Beaches Habitat in the future and volunteering. Rudy will leave Beaches Habitat with a feeling of accomplishment knowing that each time he comes back to Atlantic Beach, he can see OceanGate and know the impact he had on its construction.



ac-py17_aidaAt Beaches Habitat, Aida served as a Construction Crew Leader where she managed volunteers and gained leadership experience. Beaches Habitat’s Construction Crew Leaders are responsible for jobs onsite including carpentry, framing, and roofing as well as many other tasks. After two years of service with Beaches Habitat, as well as a summer term serving in Iowa, Aida feels accomplished knowing that she can build a whole house.

One of her favorite experiences at Beaches Habitat were Saturdays when she was able to work with many volunteers. On average, there are 45 volunteers helping to build homes each Saturday but there have been as many as 60. She had a lot of fun with them and it was great to be able to see how much progress they would make in one day.

Moving forward, she has a position working at an Addiction clinic in Jacksonville and she will start studying Psychology at FSCJ. Eventually she hopes to work as a psychologist with Doctors Without Borders, an organization that provides medical support to countries in need particularly in developing and war-torn regions. While physical medical support is desperately needed in these countries, there is also a need for mental health support which Aida plans on providing.




Eric ButlerThis year, Eric served his 3rd term as a Construction Crew Leader with Beaches Habitat. In addition to his role leading volunteer on-site, he also also had the opportunity to be a part of Habitat for Humanity International’s Action Learning Team helping AmeriCorps alumni and current members communicate. Prior to serving with Beaches Habitat, Eric served a year with FEMA Corps which is a collaboration between AmeriCorps NCCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA Corps members are involved in a number of disaster project areas including preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.

One of Eric’s favorite experiences with Beaches Habitat was working hand-in-hand with volunteers, teaching construction. Construction Crew Leaders are responsible for providing volunteers with on-site orientations and safety talks, something that Eric did very well. As they build alongside volunteers and future homeowners, the members have an opportunity to get to know them well, building relationships and learning what they enjoy and do well. Hopefully, that relationship will provide a better volunteer experience and also lead to a more productive construction site.

Now that his service has ended, Eric plans to finish his Political Science degree from FSCJ. After graduation, he will move back to Wilmington, Delaware where he plans to run for mayor.



ac-py17_paulPaul is finishing his first year serving in AmeriCorps as a Construction Crew Leader. His people skills helped him work well with the crew and volunteers. He was also particularly skilled in framing and roofing work.

He enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the regular volunteers really well. Beaches Habitat is blessed to have volunteers that have been with us from the start. There are around a dozen volunteers that come at least once a week to provide their support. Being a Construction crew leader does not require prior experience in the field, thanks in part to the experienced volunteers who help to train our members just as much as the staff. Through this on the spot training from skilled volunteers and staff, as well as more formal training opportunities, members are able to develop valuable skills and abilities.

Paul plans to move up North somewhere in Pennsylvania, where he will put the skills he learned through his service to good use in residential construction job. Although he’s still figuring out his exact plan, he does have a few job interviews already lined up.




ac-py17_mulleakMulleak spent his gap year after high school serving as a Construction Crew Leader. With the help of the staff in our Education Department, he has also been working on earning his Gold Congressional Award. The Congressional Award is a non-partisan, voluntary, and non-competitive goal setting award program. Any young person between the ages of 14 to 23 can participate, earning Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals for their achievements. The program focuses on four development areas – public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration. Mulleak completed the personal development requirement with fellow AmeriCorps member, Lisa, by planning and completing a week-long trip exploring Florida’s ecosystem.

This year Mulleak really enjoyed working with the volunteers and gaining construction and repair skills that he can always use.

He will be attending FAMU in Tallahassee this fall. Being a lifelong animal lover, he is going to study in the Vet Tech program. One of the perks of the program is an opportunity for students to travel to Madagascar. Ultimately, he plans on becoming an exotic animal surgeon helping animals such as lions.



ac-py17_petePete learned about Beaches Habitat in a bit of random luck – his former apartment is across the street from the apartments where our AmeriCorps members live. After meeting some members and spending a few hours volunteering on the construction site, he applied for a Crew Leader position. Pete has been a great addition to the team, and his attention to detail made him particularly good at the finishing work of a home.

He enjoyed gaining construction skills which will help him as a homeowner. One of the most rewarding aspects of his work was being able to see the faces of the homeowners at the dedication ceremonies and knowing that he played a role in that experience. He also enjoyed the comradery of the team and working with the high energy volunteers who were more than willing to help

Pete has accepted a VISTA position to serve another year with Beaches Habitat. In his new position, he will serve in the development office as a Resource Development Coordinator. He is looking forward to helping in a different way and playing a role in securing the material and funds that Beaches Habitat needs to continue to serve the community. Specifically, he will look at long-term fundraising strategies, which could include special events and planned giving. In his free time, Pete will put his construction skills to good use building his own tiny house.



Martha- Americorps postMartha was a great addition to our Family Services team this year, serving as a Project Development VISTA. This year she helped to prepare our team for the future by exploring new mortgage regulations, writing new policies, and setting up the new Caylx software which is a database for all of the homeowners. Her work will make timely communication with homeowners on important papers and time lines much easier.

One of her favorite things about this year is knowing how much easier the software will be for the staff.

When Martha’s term ends in October, she will go back into retirement. She has a few trips already planned such as going for a week to stay in Brasstown, North Carolina at the John C Campbell School of Folk Art. She is looking forward to the holiday sale in the handmade crafts store as well as having a week immersion in either stained glass or knitting. She is also planning a trip with her former college roommates to either Asheville or Charlotte. Amazingly, in November, she will be celebrating 20 years of service to Beaches Habitat. She first got involved by going by herself to a construction site and offering to volunteer. Since then, she has served on the board, the education committee, and is a donor. To celebrate, she plans of spending a Saturday volunteering and then taking whoever wants to join out for lunch.



ac-py17_tarynTaryn is finishing her second AmeriCorps term at Beaches Habitat, where she served as the Volunteer Services Coordinator. This was her third year of service, having been inspired to join FEMA Corps after seeing the devastating effects of tornadoes in her hometown of Joplin, MO. During her service at Beaches Habitat, Taryn helped volunteers register and sign in each day. She also was our go to photographer and helped to keep our social media channels interesting.

One of her favorite things about this year was getting to know volunteers and learning about how Habitat is able to provide affordable mortgages to homeowners. This is especially impressive in a beach community with such high property values.

Taryn will continue to work with Beaches Habitat after her service year. She has accepted a position to be a full-time Construction Coordinator. She will assist our Construction Direct, Josh, with construction project management including placing orders, scheduling inspections and other tasks to help the construction team operate more efficiently. Eventually, she plans on going back to school.



ac-py17_lisaLisa is finishing her first year as an AmeriCorps member serving as the Community Outreach Coordinator in the Education Program. In the mornings, she assisted the staff in planning and preparation for Prep Club, Beaches Habitat’s academic incentive program, and the K-12 after school enrichment and tutoring programs. In the afternoons she would help the kids with tutoring, preparing snacks, and enrichment activities.

One of the highlights of the year was taking ten high school Junior and Senior students (including her daughter) on a personal development trip to explore the Florida ecosystem. The students went on the trip to help them achieve the Congressional Award. They went on a week long trip and visited Florida State Parks where they hiked, camped in cabins, went to a museum, went to an aquarium, saw the largest waterfall in Florida, and went nighttime cave diving. Lisa and the students had a blast. She is also really excited for the students who graduated last year, two will be attending UCF, two UNF, one to FSU, and two will be attending schools in Mississippi and Michigan where they both are playing football and have full scholarships.

Next year, she will be serving again as an AmeriCorps member in the Education center and hopefully the year after she will become a permanent staff member.

Join the team!

There are still four positions available to serve as an AmeriCorps member with Beaches Habitat, starting this August. We are looking for three Construction Crew Leaders and one Volunteer Services Coordinator to complete our team of 10 members. If you are interested in serving with us, check out our AmeriCorps FAQs to learn more about our program. Apply by submitting your resume and a motivation statement through Habitat’s application portal by following the links below:

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