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AmeriCorps VISTA Member Experience: Jenna Holmes

Posted by in Community Events, Events, Jurupa Valley, New Builds, Riverside | Comments Off on AmeriCorps VISTA Member Experience: Jenna Holmes
AmeriCorps VISTA Member Experience: Jenna Holmes

Since my last blog posting in October of 2013 many goals have been worked toward with a lot of community support. I would even go as far as saying the AmeriCorps members had a bit of fun while working! I would like to highlight some of the major events and trips that have occurred since my last posting as well as give you all an update on the status of Habitat for Humanity Riverside’s efforts to collect baseline data from our Focus Area of Jurupa Valley.

National Service Leadership Conference

The 2013 National Service Leadership Conference was held in Talladega, Alabama. It was a great week where close to 500 AmeriCorps members serving with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate came together to attend many workshops and network with each other to learn about those serving in similar positions across the country. In the mornings we were divided by our Program Specialists, allowing us to gain knowledge about the members’ work occurring in our local area and nearby states. The Riverside AmeriCorps members had a great deal to discuss with Habitat Los Angeles and Orange County AmeriCorps members. For my particular roll as a Success Measures coordinator, I found a member serving in Des Moines, Iowa, in the same position. This affiliate is in their second year of using Success Measures and it was a huge benefit to be able to ask her questions on what has worked for their affiliate’s survey program and where she suggests improvements could be made. Overall, the week was filled with many team-building activities and valuable knowledge-building workshops!

The Habitat Riverside AmeriCorps members with Program Specialist Lucia Vergara.

Exciting World of Data

Thank you to Daniel and Azhar, our AmeriCorps National members, for working to complete the Demeter Focus neighborhood as well as the Habitat Homeowner Parcel Observations. On a few of their trips out to conduct these Parcel Observations, I ensured that Christine Morgando (NRI Manager) and Kathy Michalak (Construction Manager and soon to be Executive Director) were able to participate and learn the process of conducting these surveys. This is a sustainability measure to ensure that after Daniel, Azhar and myself have completed our AmeriCorps service year, the affiliate will be able to continue these efforts into the future.

In addition, I have set up a process so that whenever we complete a Habitat home the property is surveyed using the Parcel Observation tool to give us a baseline of the condition that the property was in when the partner family took possession. Assisting in this process were our Family Selection Coordinator and our Construction Project Coordinator. A blank copy of the survey has been placed in the packet of information to be completed during the final walkthrough of every home. This will ensure that our Construction Project Coordinator completes this survey.

Once all of these surveys were completed myself and one of our UCR Work Study Interns, Anita, completed the process of inputting data into the Success Measures Data System. I have created an operations manual that includes the steps to take for this process and Anita was able to follow them perfectly. This is also a sustainability measure to allow future interns and volunteers to be able to input data from all of the surveys we administer.

I have sent out Habitat Homeowner surveys to all of our current Habitat partner families. This was done just prior to the holidays. While many of our homeowners were very diligent about returning the completed surveys, I am afraid it may have been poor timing and we will be calling all of the homeowners who have not returned a survey to try to increase our response rate.

Another exciting development this month was the coordination of many different public agencies including our partner nonprofit, Reach Out, and the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services and the Riverside County Department of Public Health. All of these agencies are also looking to collect data from the residents of Jurupa Valley. We are in the beginning stages of trying to synch our efforts so as not to burden the residents with the same questions over and over again. Another effort we are pursuing is to open the lines of communication and be able to easily share data amongst these agencies.

Notable Events

On November 16th, 2013 Habitat for Humanity Riverside broke ground for three energy-Star rated homes in the City of Riverside. I was able to attend this ceremony along with many dignitaries of the city and two of the prequalified families. It was an amazing experience to be present at such an occasion and see the children become friends with their soon to be neighbors.


The Ferguson and Mobley families break ground for

their new homes along with Riverside dignitaries.

To the right, Karis and Camille celebrate that they will

be neighbors soon!

The two AmeriCorps Nationals did a terrific job coordinating two successful Neighborhood gatherings in our Focus Neighborhood of Demeter since my last blog. The first meeting was a very informal meet and greet. It was held at the Dominguez household and we filled their backyard with nearly 20 neighbors all taking the time to get to know one another and share a meal together. The second meeting was hosted by the Mendibles family and focused around learning how to form a Neighborhood Watch and what that could look like in their own neighborhood. Part of the meeting was spent outside, walking the neighborhood, conducting a “Walkability” exercise. This alerted the neighbors to the positive aspects of their community, such as the existence of well-maintained sidewalks, and also gave them some ideas of improvements that could be worked toward in their community, such as better street  lighting. Everyone is very excited for the next meeting to take place in March.

The mother-daughter teams that made our first Demeter meeting a success!

Finally, the last event I want to highlight was the 21st Annual Martin Luther King Walk-a-thon. On January 20th, instead of having a day off, many Habitat Riverside staff and family members participated in the walk from Stratton Community Center to the Digital Library located at Riverside City College. The route led us past the Martin Luther King statue on the Downtown Mall in Riverside, CA. Thank you to Katie Greene and the Riverside African-American Historical Society for such a great event! This was the perfect way for the Habitat Riverside AmeriCorps members to spend their Day of Service.


The Habitat Riverside AmeriCorps with Christine Morgando, Host Site Manager