General

Speaking the Lingo (Translating your Year of Service)

While many employers (especially official Employers of National Service) understand what AmeriCorps is, many do not. While marketing AmeriCorps and the skills you’ve gained, it is important to translate your service into the native lingo of potential employers.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about AmeriCorps; by all means, your service term is a great method to communicate your employability! Here’s how:

  1. DO talk about the “year-long commitment” of an AmeriCorps member. You served your community and your country for a designated, contracted amount of time. You completed that commitment. Market that (strongly) to potential employers. They want evidence you’ll stick around for more than 2 weeks. Employers and recruiters typically think long-term.
  2. Give employers numerical evidence of your success. Abstract ideas don’t market as well as statistics. “I underwrote loans to move 100 people into affordable housing units in 2015” sounds much more marketable than “I built hope for families.”
    • Pro-Tip: Keep track of statistics during your term (I used an excel spreadsheet for this actual underwriting statistic) define them how you will, but DO track numbers. National Service reports are a good place to start.
  3. Sell your skills, even if you are only beginning to develop them. What better employee to hire than someone who is already pursing training? Ambition is a valuable asset to a company. Not every prospective employee can demonstrate it like AmeriCorps members, who are learning and developing their skills for most of their service year.
  4. Don’t sell yourself short: talk about your program. Welcome to the 21st century: a new era of business. Companies these days are looking for community projects and ways to connect with them (especially banks and financial firms) if you’re already passionately devoted to a non-profit, your connections could be incredibly valuable to the firm. Sell that.
  5. Brand yourself as a citizen personally invested in the welfare of communities. Employers will notice if you have your own personal brand. AmeriCorps stands out: not everyone does it, enjoys it, or completes it. Some people have never heard of it. Almost all employers today ask if you have community service experience. Trust me: you have the best type of community service experience.

Test out translating your year in AmeriCorps at our upcoming Exclusive Networking Fair on May 25th at Seattle’s Impact Hub. Doors open at 3:00 p.m., register for your spot today.


picture.jpgAbout the Author Danielle is a 2nd year AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Habitat for Humanity. Last year, she served in Homeowner Services in Sacramento, California. This year, she is serving as the Store Development Coordinator for the two Habitat Stores in Seattle. She has a bachelors’ degree in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and she plans to work in non-profit management. Danielle enjoys hiking, running, and reading on the docks of Lake Washington.

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4 Tips for Mountaintop Experiences: Budgeting Success

You push yourself hard, you drink lots of water, and you finally get to the top of that incredible climb. Wow! What an amazing view! Worth the climb!

Finances, to me, are a huge part of your “Life After AmeriCorps.” Finances can enable us to do great things- but they can also majorly limit where we go, what we do, and even where we live. People think financial planning is complicated and scary, but it’s truly not- it does take some time, but like that incredible mountaintop view, it’s worth it!

Last year as a Homeowner Services Coordinator, I was financially counseling families in the program, but I was also taking a look at my own personal budget and cutting expenses. It really astounds me that people don’t care for their finances the way they care for their teeth- you need regular check-ups to make sure you’re still healthy.

Here are my personal budgeting tips:

  1. Stop Hiding. Get real with yourself. Create a spreadsheet of all your financial accounts. Include your savings, your debt, and your goals. Include how much you want to pay in bills, for food, gas, etc. each month. Give yourself a reward when it’s finished. It might be painful, but it will be incredibly valuable. Own your finances, don’t let them own you.
  2.  Stop Being Afraid. Set up automatic payments. Set an auto-pay into your savings account, EVERY MONTH, because you should always pay yourself first (without even thinking about it). If you’re afraid your balance will be too low, keep it simple. Set auto-pay at $5. Having an emergency fund is one of the very first steps to financial success, and you should have enough money to cover the basics.
  3.  Think in Baby Steps. Think about what you want to accomplish, what it will cost, and then split that into daily amounts. Think about what you can pay each day towards your goals. Large costs can overwhelm us. A monthly payment of $350 is $12.50 each day. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? (By the way- that’s $4,200 per year.)
  4.  Don’t Ignore Finances. They find you. They also have an unfortunate tendency to grow. Late fees, interest, debt collectors…you need to contact the financial institution and work out a plan. Financial institutions WANT to work with you to solve problems.

It’s a challenge, I’m not pretending it’s easy to live the #StipendLife. I have had to limit myself to only basics during the last 2 years. I have been paid in free t-shirts and claimed more free food than I care to admit. It is a challenge, but one that you can conquer. Keep your eye on the prize: I promise there’s a really beautiful view at the top.

Plan for your life after AmeriCorps at our upcoming Exclusive Networking Fair on May 25th at Seattle’s Impact Hub. Doors open at 3:00 p.m., register for your spot today.


picture.jpgAbout the Author Danielle is a 2nd year AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Habitat for Humanity. Last year, she served in Homeowner Services in Sacramento, California. This year, she is serving as the Store Development Coordinator for the two Habitat Stores in Seattle. She has a bachelors’ degree in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and she plans to work in non-profit management. Danielle enjoys hiking, running, and reading on the docks of Lake Washington.

Launch Your Career at Our Exclusive Networking Fair

You’ve just spent an entire year, or two… or three, as a dedicated AmeriCorps member. You’ve gained incredible and tangible professional experience, put in hours of volunteering, improved your leadership skills tremendously and impacted your community. And all of this was done on a teeny tiny living stipend.

Now, you’re transitioning out of service. You may know what you want to do, or what organizations you’d like to work for… Alternatively, you don’t know what you want to do, or you’re open to new opportunities.

Whether you are a member transitioning out of service or just getting started, we are supporting you this May by providing the opportunity to meet potential employers in your field of interest.

Our mission is to ensure that every AmeriCorps member’s year of service is as fulfilling and impactful as possible; leveraging the talents, knowledge and resources of a connected and service minded community.  That’s why you’re invited to the Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative’s first annual exclusive networking event – Resources for Success: SAC Networking Fair.

Take a step out of your comfort zone and step into your community! Join us on May 25th at the Impact Hub for food, networking and fun. Doors open at 3:00 pm. REGISTER today.

Thus, the Powerpuff Girls were born!

I’ll never forget jumping out of bed early on a Saturday morning to catch Cartoon Network’s morning lineup: Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, and the all-time best cartoon in the history of time, The Powerpuff Girls. I don’t think I am the only one who recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a Powerpuff Girl with the #PowerpuffYourself campaign from The Cartoon Network (try it out!)

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Here is me, a Powerpuff Girl, fighting the patriarchy and tackling adulthood.

 

Come reminisce with other AmeriCorps members at Central Cinema: A two hour block of FREE classic cartoons plus food and drink specials from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Check out their happy hour menu. Let us know you’re coming by sending your RSVP. Hope to see you there!

We host monthly events around Seattle to foster connection and collaboration amongst our service-leaders. We always welcome ideas and suggestions – let us know your thoughts at seattleaccollaborative@gmail.com.

Like our Facebook page for organizational updates and upcoming events. Join our Facebook group for resource-sharing and support.

File Your Taxes For Free

Every year in Washington State, low-and-middle income individuals and families struggle to pay the bills and keep food on the table. Tax time can make an unstable situation even worse with low-income Washingtonians being disproportionately impacted by the most regressive tax system in the nation coupled with costly tax preparation fees, which are often upwards of $300.

But every tax season, across the country, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers people a free alternative to more costly tax preparation services. VITA free tax preparation services are offered by local IRS-certified volunteers and are closely monitored by the agency, giving them a far lower error rate than many self – and paid-tax preparation services.

United Way of King County has proudly operated our local VITA program, referred to as the Free Tax Preparation Campaign, for over thirteen years. Starting as only a few tax site locations, the program has expanded to be county-wide with 24 locations and leverages the skills and talents of over 900 multi-lingual, trained, and IRS-certified volunteers. In 2015, the Free Tax Preparation Campaign prepared 19,900 tax returns, securing $27 million in refunds to the community. This year the Campaign is aiming to serve even more low-and-middle income households than ever before.

Spread the word about this incredible free service and connect even more low-and-middle income families and individuals to these financially stabilizing resources.  To find your nearest tax site and what to bring, visit www.uwkc.org/taxhelp. Free tax prep is also available online for households making less than $62K at www.myfreetaxes.com.


Originally written by United Way of King County, https://www.uwkc.org/financial-stability/4148/

The Pursuit of Happiness

Beginning my freshman year at Ball State University, I decided to volunteer for one simple reason – the reason we all volunteer – to help others.

I supported members of the community by serving meals, helping individuals to read or improve their grades, and, most importantly, building positive relationships.

The most influential relationship was one that I developed over four years of volunteering at Hillcroft, an agency that supports adults and teens with mental and physical disabilities. A man who was blind and disabled, he had the gentlest soul I had ever met. Each week, he would tell me stories about his day, what excited him about the weekend, and asked me to share stories with him too. At the end of four years, I had made a new friend. Though this experience was impactful for me, I knew I didn’t have the capacity to pursue a career in direct service.

My undergraduate courses in social work allowed me the opportunity to explore issues of domestic violence and child neglect, poverty and hunger, race and class, but it was my Women and Gender Studies minor that connected the dots for me. I discovered intersectionality – a feminist theory that can be used to identify and examine how social and cultural identities interact between systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Incorporating this knowledge into my volunteer and work experiences was not a difficult task, as the tendencies regarding poverty and its relationship with race, class and gender IMG_8150cannot be ignored. Instead of ignoring it, I tried to do something about it.

This is what led me to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA at United Way of Madison County upon graduating college. AmeriCorps VISTA is a unique branch of National Service that works to build the capacity of organizations so that it can better serve the needs of the community. Most VISTAs work to improve the systems and programs so that low-income families and individuals have easier access to services or more resources they need to be successful. My work at United Way was focused on empowering people in poverty toward self-sufficiency. I built the capacity of the free community tax service program in the county. I increased the amount of taxes filed by 130%, managed $20,000 in grant funds, and aided in the distribution of thousands of dollars in refunds. With many great accomplishments, the greatest of which was the relationships I built with my co-workers and supervisor. They supported me, even when I leaned on them for much more than my AmeriCorps duties. I finally had found a way to use my organizational skills, passion for helping others, background in strengths-based social work, while pursing friendships with other service-minded individuals. I was hooked, so I committed to serve a sIMG_0037econd year, here in Seattle.

My decision to serve has allowed me to build my professional skills, pursue a career that helps others, and impact the lives of individuals. The individuals I have met through my service experiences, both collegiate and AmeriCorps, have changed my life for good. Ultimately, my commitment and dedication to service is simple: If I am happiest building relationships and serving others, how can I do anything else?


DSC01366About the Author Jacquee is Board Chair Communications Lead for the Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative. In her second year of service, she enjoys using her background in social work, interest in writing, and pursuit of a career in nonprofits to lift the work of AmeriCorps members across the Seattle area.

Social at Spinnaker Bay Brewing

Join us in South Seattle at Spinnaker Bay Brewing on February 23 at 6:00 p.m. for some company and brews.

Founded in 2012 by Janet Spindler and Elissa Pryor, Spinnaker is currently Washington state’s only 100% woman founded and owned microbrewery. Rooted in family heritage, Janet’s great great great spinnakerbaybrewing_familyphotograndmother is the woman who brewed the barrel of beer shown in the picture below. Written on the original photograph are the words “What is home without beer?”

We say, hardly home.

Located at 5718 Rainier Ave S., Seattle WA 98118 (map) in the Hillman City neighborhood (1/2 mile south of Columbia City), you can get to Spinnaker via public transit on bus route 7.

They also offer growler refills, Cider, Mexican Coca-Cola, San Pellegrino sparkling water, hotdogs and other snacks. You are welcome to bring in food to enjoy. If you’re gluten-free they have bottled beers available right now, Omission pale ale, Dogfishhead Tweason’ale, which is made with straberries, sorghum and honey and Fox Tail Gluten-Free Pale Ale.

What’s more, we will be viewing the Sounders v Club America game that night – starting at 7:00 p.m.

Remember to follow us on Twitter @AmeriSeattle and join our Facebook Group for event updates and online connecting. Can’t wait to see you there!


Do you want to host the Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative? Do you have a suggested location for our next event? Email us at seattleaccollaborative@gmail.com.