By Marshall Goldsmith

“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.”
Pierce Brown, Golden Son

Before serving as an AmeriCorps member with Housing Action Illinois, I served as an AmeriCorps member for a year as a Literacy Tutor in the Las Vegas School System. The position itself was rewarding, but unfortunately, I didn’t receive as much support as I had hoped for. As my year of service came to an end, due to various challenges, including homelessness and coming to terms with a disability, I found myself at a crossroads.

A fellow AmeriCorps member suggested exploring opportunities in the Chicago area, and this is where my AmeriCorps experience took a very positive turn. Willie, the National Service Program Manager at Housing Action Illinois, played a pivotal role in helping me navigate potential positions in Chicago, going above and beyond by connecting with people on my behalf. His support, along with the assistance of Housing Action’s AmeriCorps VISTA Leader Petra, made the transition smoother, and they even provided resources for my move.

Upon returning to Chicago, I realized the road ahead would be challenging, but this time, I had an incredible team supporting me. Petra and Willie, in particular, were always responsive, ensuring we had the resources needed for our roles. Petra’s dedication to organizing training sessions and acting as a reliable sounding board truly stood out. The organization I worked with, Lake County Community Development, made sure I could meet expectations and also assisted me in accessing community resources for a smoother reintegration into the community.

Marshall Goldsmith at 2023 Housing Matters Conference

Feeling like an integral part of the team, I was even invited to be a board member for the Continuum of Care, providing my lived experience to benefit those experiencing homelessness.

Because of the complete turnaround in my AmeriCorps experience during my second year of service, I immediately took on a third assignment without a break. I am now serving as an Employment and Housing specialist at Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center, actively involved in creating programs to teach clients about budgeting and money management. I’ve also had the opportunity to directly impact individuals’ lives by helping them with medical debt and crafting resumes.

I can’t help but feel that Housing Action Illinois, Willie, Petra, and Lake County Community Development played a crucial role in this positive transformation. Their support and dedication set a high standard for how AmeriCorps programs should run. I strongly believe their practices could be shared as best practices through training webinars for leaders and potential host sites.

I am sharing my story with you as a testament to the impact of a supportive and responsive team in AmeriCorps. I believe that by learning from successful programs, we can enhance the overall effectiveness of AmeriCorps initiatives.

About Housing Action’s AmeriCorps Network

AmeriCorps members in Housing Action’s network tackle a wide range of projects, all related in some way to fighting poverty, during a full year of service with one of our coalition’s member organizations.

2024 Host Site Applications are open until January 26. Learn more by joining our upcoming AmeriCorps webinars »

Learn more about the Housing Action AmeriCorps Network »