AmeriCorps Offers Amazing Year of Service and Travel

By Kathy Lefler/Communications and Marketing Manager

Did you know that Wichita Habitat staffer Shawna Dennett has operated a backhoe?

No, Shawna didn’t have this experience while working at our affiliate. Instead, it was while she served as a member of Sun 8 with the AmeriCorps Civilian Conservation Corps in 2001.

Shawna Dennett
Wichita Habitat’s Organizational Development Director

This week we’re celebrating AmeriCorps and so that includes alumni like Shawna.

She shared a bit about her year in service. It began in Denver where she and her team of nine helped with an after-school program. After that, she and her team headed to Montana. “It was beautiful there,” she said. During their time in Montana they worked on two houses – and Shawna got to run the backhoe. “That was a really empowering experience,” she said.

Next, they headed to Iowa where they replaced fencing, then to Indiana where they cleared trail and cleaned up a summer camp and Illinois where they served in an elementary school teaching remedial reading.

Shortly after their arrival in Illinois, 9/11 occurred and Shawna, as a member of a specially trained disaster response team, left her Sun 8 team and was deployed to Washington, D.C., and then New York City to serve victims of the attacks.

Shawna said she decided to pursue a year with AmeriCorps after she graduated from college. “I was looking for a neat experience and my mom told me about AmeriCorps VISTA,” she explained. “I started doing some research and found out about NCCC. I loved the idea of travel and serving people.”

Shawna’s spirit of adventure and call to service are still evident.

She’s a long-time staff member of Wichita Habitat for Humanity. In her time with us, she’s worked with people applying to our program and mentored them during their journey to homeownership. Shawna also the go-to person on staff when you need to talk through an issue and need a patient listener. When she’s not working, Shawna loves to travel and has been checking out well-known and hidden attractions and towns in Kansas.

Thank you, Shawna, for your past, present and future service!