Resources

AmeriCorps Graduate Program Discount!

IslandWood is offering a tuition discount to Americorps alumni for its two Graduate Degrees in Environmental Education. This is in addition to scholarship available and any education award matching from UW or Antioch University.

Island Wood

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#StipendLife Vol. 2: My haul from St. Vincent de Paul

AmeriAdvice Column

Do you need warm clothing in anticipation of Seattle’s “sweater weather”? What about some nice dress slacks, or cool hiking boots? Looking for cheap furniture? You may be an avid thrift store shopper, or maybe you’ve never set foot in any store that accepts donations, but if you’re going to live the #StipendLife, you need to fully embrace these wondrous, amazing, magical places. Here’s why:

  1. Make the world a better place by shopping! Many thrift stores are designed as a way for nonprofit organizations to raise money for a great cause. A few well-known thrift stores that support nonprofit organizations are Goodwill, The Habitat for Humanity Stores, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and the Assistance League of Seattle. Check your local listings for stores near you!
  2. Go green! Thrift stores are a great way to keep materials out of landfills by reselling them. REUSE old items or RE-PURPOSE them for new, fabulous things. (AmeriPro-tip: learn to sew, and the entire collection of weird old clothing at thrift stores will be open to you!)
  3. GREAT deals.  Most thrift stores have colored tags or labels that are marked down on certain months or days. Some even do “managers specials” or 50% off sales monthly! St. Vincent de Paul provides a calendar of their sales, and many stores post them on social media. (Another AmeriPro-tip: this is a great place to watch for job postings as well!)
  4. GREAT brands. It is absolutely incredible what people will give away. You can find some incredible, high end brands at these stores for a FRACTION of the price. There are treasures waiting for you, prepare for the hunt!
  5. Make money shopping. While not every store offers a consignment option, some stores actually allow you to have your items sold in their stores and pay you when when it sells ! This is a great way to make money (just pay attention to the store consignment rules).
  6. Fight mega-consumer society. Activism may not be your “thing,” but shopping at thrift stores is just one way we can combat the buy/break/throw away culture of our society (Black Friday/Gray Thursday/Cyber Monday, anyone?) if you’re into that sort of thing.
  7. Fun pastime with friends! It can be absolutely hilarious to go thrift shopping. You might find a cheetah print couch. Or a vintage guitar. Or a weird, fuzzy, cat print handbag. Shop with your friends and laugh together.
  8. Make Macklemore proud of his hometown. He wrote “Thrift Shop” for a reason. Get into the thrifting spirit by watching the music video here. Wear your granddad’s clothes. Look incredible.
  9. Stay dry. The Seattle rainy season is upon us. Stay dry by hanging out indoors, and save some money!

There are so many reasons why you should shop at thrift stores. Save money, make the world a better place. Good luck, #StipendLifers!

 

#StipendLife Vol. 1- Housing

AmeriAdvice ColumnAcross the country, AmeriCorps members in large cities are struggling to find affordable housing. Seattle is no exception- the rent costs for 1 & 2 bedroom units in city limits often exceed $1000 a month.

This is not sustainable. In fact, it doesn’t even sound possible.

You, however, know how to live the #StipendLife!

We have many members that live in the Seattle city limits (over 600 members are on our Facebook group today) and they have come up with some extremely creative ways to manage to afford the Pacific Northwest. Here are a few tips & tricks:

#SAChousing. Did you know? Within the SAC Facebook group, we have generated a tag for all AmeriCorps members who are looking to find housing in Seattle or have rooms to rent.

Craigslist. Craigslist has a feature that allows you to post a biography in the “seeking housing” section. Try posting a nice ad about what you’re looking for, and include the budget you’re seeking monthly. Mention that you will be serving in AmeriCorps under a living stipend. Pro-Tip: ALWAYS ask for discounts for AmeriCorps members when seeking housing. Occasionally landlords will reduce rent or utilities.

Co-Workers. Connect with co-workers at your current site (staff AND other AmeriCorps members) to see if anyone has an extra room for you to rent, or a room for sharing. You’d be surprised what you might find if you ask around. Many homeowners in Seattle are interested in renting rooms to help with mortgage payments.

Network. Network. Network. Does your mom’s sister’s aunt have a co-worker in Seattle? Ask anyone you know if they would consider renting a room out of their home. They might not currently rent to tenants, but they might appreciate the extra income!

If you’re still in a pinch, try these:

Negotiate. I cannot stress this enough. You are providing an incredible service to your country and the Seattle community. If you can’t afford rent in your current apartment, ask if it can be reduced. Landlords will not always honor this request, but they might, and you’ll never know unless you ask them.

Work/Serve. There are many programs that allow you to provide maintenance, nanny-ing, or other services in exchange for reduced or free rent. SAC knows of one VISTA member that actually did service while living on a ship! Solutions are out there, if you’re willing to get creative. Check out this article for more ideas.

Air BNB. This is an interesting model of travel where strangers offer their home, extra room, trailer, or other sleeping location for a few nights to travelers. Some Air BNBs allow you to stay for a month! This could be a great option while settling into Seattle.

Couch Surfing. For the less materialistically inclined, there’s always “couch surfing,” which allows you to meet new people and move throughout the city while staying on a stranger’s couch. Be cautious if you choose to do this!

Trailer/Camper Living. It’s been done! Monthly campsite fees are sometimes cheaper than paying for rent in the city. This is more ideal for members who live and work outside the city limits.

 

Have a great story about how YOU managed housing in Seattle? We want to hear from you! Email us at seattleaccollaborative@gmail.com.


picture.jpgAbout the Author:  Danielle is a 2nd year AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Habitat for Humanity and Communications Lead on the SAC Board. Last year, she served in Homeowner Services in Sacramento, California. This year, she assists the Seattle Habitat Stores with in-kind donor acquisition, operations development, and coordinating volunteer teams. She has a bachelors’ degree in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and she plans to work in non-profit management. Danielle spends her time hiking mountains, reading, running, and exploring all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

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.

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.

5 Tips for The Road Trip of a Lifetime!

What is the first word that pops into your mind when I say “networking”?

“Sharks”? “Feeding Frenzy”? “Terrifying”? “Fear”?

What about “adventure”?

I hate the word networking. I will be substituting the words “adventure” and “road trip,” because most people love adventures and road trips. Think of networking as the road trip of your lifetime: it isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. Most people try to network (adventure) with the effort to GAIN something from someone. I’m here to tell you that’s not really the point.

The point of networking (or road trips) is to connect with other people. That’s it. While the connections could possibly lead to a new job or a career, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t work like a simply transaction.

Networking (and road trips) take work & relationship building. That’s right. Real, hard work. In order to truly have incredible adventures with people, you have to be prepared. Here are 5 ways to prepare for your networking adventure:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. You aren’t going to get anywhere if you don’t have a plan of action. Where do you want to go? How are you going to get there? What will you do if that plan doesn’t work out?
  2. Don’t be afraid to meet someone new. Take your friends along for the ride, but don’t be afraid to make new ones. New people challenge us: our skills, our thoughts about ourselves, and our dreams. They take us places we never imagined we’d go.
  3. Be yourself. Let people know the real you – what your interests are, what your dreams are, what challenges you have overcome, and where you want to go. Don’t hide behind your phone. Set it down, walk up to people, and have a conversation. Stop “social networking” and start “connecting.”
  4. Learn about THEM. What drives them? What inspires them? Why do they do what they do? Think of other people like your “road map.” In order to plan YOUR path, you must be aware of how other people have traveled theirs!
  5. Be prepared for flat tires. Sometimes, life will throw you a flat tire: a job that doesn’t work out, an employer you didn’t get along with, a fundamental change that leaves you jobless. The most important test of our character is how we handle the “flat tires” of our lives. Things change, and we must keep going.

There are always challenges to face on the road trip of life. Traveling pushes our limits, gives us the opportunity to grow, and builds our friendships with each other. Isn’t that the goal of networking too?

Test your road tripping skills 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. She is a member of the SAC Career Fair Committee.

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.