ServeNext.org Blog

Senator Tester Tours Butte Habitat for Humanity Homes, Sees Value of AmeriCorps First Hand

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on September 7, 2012

Post by Heather Margolis, ServeNext Organizer for Montana

On August 30th, Senator Jon Tester toured three beautiful Habitat and self-help built homes that graced the rugged hillside of Butte, each in various stages of completion. The crowd that gathered ranged in age from college students to retired citizens all who played a role in building the walls of the habitat houses. Montana Campus Compact (MTCC) have historically partnered with Habitat to build homes and strengthen Habitat’s volunteer recruitment. These AmeriCorps Alums represented alums from Montana Campus Corps program, who attended Highlands College; Montana Tech, as well as recent MTCC AmeriCorps VISTAs alums.

Todd Hunkler, an MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA alum, greeted me and introduced me to Barbara Miller, a shared executive who directs two self-help organizations – Habitat of Southwest Montana and National Affordable Housing Network. I thanked her for including me in the Habitat volunteer appreciation event, which provided a chance for the community to come out and celebrate their achievements.

These houses represented economic stability for their new owners, grit and commitment to serving on behalf of the AmeriCorps alums, students, and community volunteers. The crowd all wearing “I support AmeriCorps” stickers welcomed Senator Tester who greeted them enthusiastically.

Barbara Miller led Senator Tester through the energy efficient homes and explained how the homeowners contribute sweat equity into the projects and work alongside the college students, AmeriCorps members and community volunteers.

Senator Tester had a chance to talk with Roxanne, a disabled retired nurse, a homeowner of a self -help house built six years ago, and current Habitat volunteer site supervisor. Roxanne shared how her contributions to building her own house had helped her adapt to her own physical disabilities. Through service she gained new strength and improved ability to walk again, and she has volunteered ever since. Roxanne is now a role model for the young Montana Campus AmeriCorps Alumni who helped build these homes last spring. They returned to the site to show their appreciation for all that they learned including labor skills and the value of hard work and of community accomplishment.

Roxanne explained that these kids give her hope. Barbara Miller explained further how AmeriCorps VISTAs have been an infusion of youth and energy into Butte that has been watching the city age along with its population. Many of the VISTAs who came, have stayed and played a critical role in the cities re-vitalizations efforts.

The Senator shared a few words and thanked all of the volunteers and AmeriCorps members and alums for their service to Butte and Montana.

“AmeriCorps engages youth in community service and does a lot of good for folks in Montana,” said Tester. “AmeriCorps is a responsible initiative that teaches valuable skills, a solid work ethic, and makes a difference in Montana communities.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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