You might remember Erica Haasl as the friendly, klutzy AmeriCorps VISTA with the big smile, but that doesn’t quite fit on a business card. Her official position with Habitat was the Volunteer Development Specialist from 2014-2015.
For Erica, this was her first professional work experience after she completed her degree from UW-LaCrosse and was a time for her to gain real world experience while she applied for Masters programs in school guidance counseling.
“My year of AmeriCorps helped me to grow professionally while preparing for my graduate school experience. No doubt having this experience on my resume helped with my acceptance into my top school of choice. It also allowed me to experience the business world of nonprofits.”
Erica lists her two top memories from her term was doing the Point-In-Time count (The Point-in-Time count is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January and July. HUD requires that Continuums of Care conduct an annual count of homeless persons who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and Safe Havens on a single night.) and participating as an interviewer Fox Cities Housing Coalition’s Project RUSH- Research to Understand and Solve Homelessness. Connecting with the community really helped to add value and meaning to her service with Habitat.
Erica also had some advice for any future VISTAs: “One, every VISTA experience is different. The team, site, population you are serving, VISTA leader etc. all factor into a year-long term. Two, your year is what you make of it. Three, keep a portfolio to document your work and four, encourage all VISTAs to make connections with other VISTAs and to continue those relationships. Having those to be in touch with during and even after your year is extremely helpful support wise and business wise.”
After completing her AmeriCorps VISTA year in 2015, Erica headed to NC State in Raleigh, NC to complete her masters in school guidance counseling.