While reflecting on my time as an AmeriCorps member thus far, I have noticed significant change within myself. I am generally a very bold and outgoing person, however when beginning my term with AmeriCorps I felt out of my league. I had no idea what an intake specialist meant or what being a “specialist” would entail. I was worried that I wouldn’t be up to par with the rest of the team. During my first few weeks with AmeriCorps I was very shy and timid and would allow other team members to take on the “hard” duties while I watched and learned. When I spoke on the phone with clients I would stutter and often times put clients on hold in order to get further information from the counselors. Fortunately, my attempts to job shadow my fellow colleagues have started to pay off. I have become very fluent in regards to understanding tax foreclosure and I can relay my new found knowledge onto the clients I speak with. I am able to portray the timeline of tax foreclosure very clearly to the clients and most times I am able to put them at ease.
At Center for Financial Health we have been overwhelmed with tax foreclosure clients. Many clients call in an outright panic and want answers now. It is up to me to explain the process of tax foreclosure and help to put them at contentment for the time being. Gathering information from frightened clients can be very difficult at times as most of the time they are just looking for someone to confide in about their situation. I have learned to be much more empathetic towards others and try to truly relate to others. Recently there was a client who called Center for Financial Health who was in tax foreclosure for 2011 taxes which meant she was facing a serious consequence of losing her home very soon. I advised her to contact the county treasurer’s office and explain to them that she was working with Center for Financial Health and she has an appointment scheduled with us, in hopes that the treasurer’s office would give her an extension. I also worked with one of the counselors and was able to get the client scheduled for an appointment pretty quickly. The client asked for my name and my direct line. She then thanked me and said “Thank you for taking the time to help me. I really appreciate it.” I love hearing clients thank me because that means I am doing my job well and the clients appreciate my efforts just as much as I appreciate their gratitude.
AmeriCorps has also afforded me many opportunities in regards to training workshops and attending public events. Recently I attended “Show Me the Money Day” and wobbled with the mayor of Lansing, Virg Bernero. I have also been able to learn more about the grant writing process, how to recruit and sustain volunteers, the ins and outs of foreclosure, and marketing and outreach. Furthermore I have been able to put my networking skills to use and connect with many respectfully known business professionals. AmeriCorps is a blessing to my future success and has allowed me to grow as a person and as a professional. I now know that once my term with AmeriCorps is complete that I want to continue volunteering in the community and want to lead a career that is specific to helping those in need. During my first few weeks as an AmeriCorps member I wouldn’t have been able to clearly explain to others what I do as an AmeriCorps member. Now I love when people ask me what I do because now I can explain with ease! “I am an AmeriCorps member serving at Center for Financial Health and I help people sustain affordable, healthy living through education and prevention, one home at a time.”
Hailey Hartig is an AmeriCorps member at Center for Financial Health in Lansing.
This post is part of a blog series highlighting the viewpoints of Michigan AmeriCorps Foreclosure Prevention Corps members serving at different foreclosure host sites around Michigan. View information about the program or see more stories in this series.