KHfH Celebrates AmeriCorps Week

KHfH Celebrates AmeriCorps Week

Annually we spend the second week of March recognizing and celebrating the millions of Americans who have chosen to serve communities through AmeriCorps service. AmeriCorps and its wonderful members and volunteers have had a long running relationship with Kaua’i Habitat for Humanity, and this March 10-16, we celebrate all they have done to strengthen our community. AmeriCorps is a federal agency for national service and volunteerism, providing opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds to serve their country, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, and improve lives and communities and is celebrating its 30th year of getting things done for America.

Here at Kaua’i Habitat, service members have addressed the housing crisis facing our island by serving in many capacities. Most have served at our construction sites as Construction Crew Leaders working along-side our homebuyers and volunteers to provide houses for those in need of a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. Others have served in various positions within the organization assisting with anything from promoting and marketing our ReStore to organizing and managing projects in our Development, Volunteer and Family Services programs.

AmeriCorps Service Members spend a ten-and-a-half-month term at Kaua’i Habitat and in that time, they also explore, learn and contribute to the community. One annual project that they participate in is the Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service, where they volunteer their time in an effort to make the world a better place. The projects vary from year to year and this year the group volunteered at the Kaua’i Soto Zen Temple where they assembled first-aid kits for the unhoused community, as part of an event put on by the temple along with the Interfaith Round Table of Kaua’i. This organization is a nonprofit that is dedicated to united spiritual and religious groups for the greater good. The IRTOK not only hosts the MLK Day of Service but also has many different meetings and services throughout the year, including the National Day of Prayer, held on the first Thursday of May each year. About 20 different faiths become united, showcasing Kauai’s religious diversity, yet simultaneously our universal desire to make our community a better place.

Farah Aquino was a keynote speaker at the event as a liaison for the unhoused community of Kaua’i. Having experienced homelessness herself, she spoke about how necessary and meaningful the work done by the volunteers was – not only that people took timeout of their days to come help out, but that even visitors to the island came, having seen ads for it. Lat year, about 75 first aid kits were assembled for the unhoused community. This year, attendees assembled approximately 300. Evidently, the need for basic necessities is very dire for the unhoused community.

In addition to their time assembling first aid kits, they also participated in an art project to create a collage for peace. This included tracing their shoes on paper and decorating them to represent the steps needed to guide us to a better world. The celebration culminated with birthday cake, videos of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, as well as a speech about Spark Matsunaga, a local advocate who embodied a similar spirit as MLK with his activism.

MLK Day of Service is a requirement for all serving Americorps to find a project in their community to serve with. Although MLK day is a national holiday, we believe it should be a “day on, not a day off,” in remembrance of the civil rights leader that gave so much to our country. Although Americorps requires this for all serving members, MLK days of service can be found all around the country outside of this organization.

For more information on AmeriCorps and how you can support a community through service click here.

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