The idea of the Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative grew out of discussions among a handful of us (members and alums) about what it’s like to be in AmeriCorps in an increasingly expensive city like Seattle. We knew of members who struggled to find affordable housing close to where they served, who lacked a real support network having moved from out of state for AmeriCorps, or who felt isolated in their position and had difficulty seeing the impact of their service. In an area where over a thousand members serve per year, how could this be?
Meeting in coffee shops and at each other’s homes, we decided that a purposeful network of currently serving AmeriCorps members in the Seattle area could meet the need of connecting people to one another to share tips on living on the stipend, offer leads on housing, identify professional development opportunities, and develop friendships. We were excited to learn that something similar had been accomplished in Grand Rapids, MI, called the West Michigan AmeriCorps Collaborative (WMAC), which inspired our organizational model going forward.
In Winter 2015, our small group started reaching out to friends serving in AmeriCorps, alumni, program managers, Serve Washington, Washington Service Corps, and the State CNCS office for input. After receiving much enthusiasm for the idea, it was time to plan and make this happen. Unofficially, the first Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative event was a happy hour with about a dozen members from Habitat for Humanity SKC, Neighborhood House and City Year on the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
Officially, we say the beginning of SAC was our launch at Peddler Brewing Company in April 2015. With over 60 members in attendance, we announced a call for leadership, seeking applicants for our Executive Board and our Advisory Council. Around this time SAC discovered a great partner in Jack Tomkinson of Urban Sparks, a nonprofit leader and philanthropist working to create a Service House in Seattle.
In May, the first SAC Executive Board convened to lay a foundation and plan for the year. We wrote our mission statement at a Capitol Hill coffee shop and hashed out our governing documents. Later in the summer, SAC received Nonprofit Corporation status in Washington. Since the beginning, SAC has hosted various get-togethers, including the first annual #Stipendlife event at Seattle City Hall. We are continuously trying to strengthen our online network through social media and the website. Year one has been busy, and we cannot wait for future years!