It’s AmeriCorps Week (March 4 – March 11, 2017) and we’re thrilled to introduce our two amazing AmeriCorps members who are serving with us in 2016-2017, Eddy McKinnon and Gabrielle Bellamy. We’ll be sharing profiles from both members this week in support of AmeriCorps service. (Check out Eddy’s profile.)
We met up with AmeriCorps VISTA member, Gabrielle, who is spending a year building and expanding program capacity for our existing ReStore on Beach Blvd., and helping plan for the opening of our second ReStore on 103rd Street. She started with us in October 2016, and has been hard at work supporting ReStore staff. Gabrielle is a great addition to the HabiJax ReStore team and we’re so lucky to have this talented VISTA serving with us this year!
Where are you from? And, what did you study? I’m from Lake City, Florida, which is only a little over an hour away from Jacksonville. I studied English at Tuskegee University (B.A.) and Integrated Global Communication at Kennesaw State University (M.A.)
Why did you choose a year of service/the AmeriCorps program? I chose to do a year of service because I wanted to take some time to do something really meaningful in my career that would allow me to give back. Two of my former classmates served with AmeriCorps, so they introduced me to it. They both served in the area of education, and I thought it involved teaching, but once I saw there were many other options, I was sold.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the program? Biggest challenge? I think my biggest accomplishment has been helping to find ways to assess and measure the progress of our volunteer and donation programs. My biggest challenge is sometimes keeping up with all of the changes so far – from new faces to new donation items to an entire new store.
Do you have a story you can share that embodies the mission of the organization? It’s always nice to see people, sincerely, give back because they want to help the HabiJax mission. I hear so many people mentioning how they shop at the ReStore or donate to the ReStore because the proceeds go to a good cause. Or when volunteers come, repeatedly, in their spare time, on lunch, or during vacation to give back and help an organization that helps our local community.
What do you like (or wish you could change) about your current role? If there was one thing that I wish I could change about my current role, it would be having the opportunity to do some direct service tasks as well as the in-direct tasks.
What do you love about living in Jacksonville? What are some of your favorite local hobbies, places of interest, etc.? I like the Riverside area. I enjoy running in that area, and I am planning on running in the Gate River Run on March 11. I also enjoy eating out and going to the Riverside Arts Market.
What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your service year? At the end of my service year, I hope I can say I helped our ReStore become more socially effective by implementing new communication ideas and helping to strengthen the volunteer and donation programs.
What do you see yourself doing after service? After service, I’m not, exactly, sure what I’ll be doing, but I’d like to continue to do work with non-profits.
Would you recommend service to someone? Why or why not? I would, definitely, recommend a year of service to anyone who is able to do so. It’s only one year, and it allows you to give back in so many ways.