AmeriCorps keeps Lincoln resident on the move

Tour of duty takes Jennifer Murphy to Gulf region to work with Habitat for Humanity
By: Jennifer Murphy Special to The News Messenger
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Editor’s note: Jennifer Murphy is the daughter of Mike and Cindy Murphy, of Lincoln. Murphy is currently serving in AmeriCorps and is writing a series of articles documenting her experience for the Lincoln News Messenger. Since the day I arrived in Hattiesburg, Miss., for my latest assignment I have been in constant motion. I arrived in Hattiesburg on a Thursday morning, and by the time the sun went down, I was in another city and state. My first night on the Gulf Liaison Team, I actually slept on a cot in a trailer in Mobile, Ala. I was there with other members of the team to visit two National Civilian Community Corps teams working with Habitat for Humanity. The teams were helping to finish houses that were started for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project began in 1984 when the former president led a work group in renovating a six-story building in New York City to give 19 families a place to call home. Each year, the Carters give a week of their time in a different location to work on houses and raise awareness of the need for affordable housing. This year’s project took place in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, and next year’s project will take place in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and the Yunan Province in China. My work schedule is always changing, but for the most part, I spend three days in the office working on a newsletter for the teams serving in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Texas, and two days a week visiting teams in different locations across the gulf region. My favorite site visit so far took place when my team visited the organization named Green Light New Orleans. The organization sends volunteers into houses throughout the city of New Orleans to change light bulbs. At the homeowner’s request, Green Light switches out every light bulb, from incandescent bulbs to modern compact fluorescent light bulbs. In one day, four members of the team visited eight houses and replaced more than 260 light bulbs. It was amazing to me how something that seems so small could have such an impact. On average, each homeowner will save about $45 over the lifetime of each light bulb, which is approximately five to seven years. My favorite part of working on the team is meeting corps members from other teams and other campuses to get a better idea of all this program has been able to do. I have been able to visit work sites in Biloxi, Miss.; Pass Christian, Miss.; New Orleans and Mobile, so far. For the next few weeks I will not be making any site visits, however, as there is another program run by National Civilian Community Corps that needs assistance from the Gulf Liaison Team staff: Summer of Service. Summer of Service is a program for 14- to 17-year-olds to spend a month of their summer break doing service projects. There are three Summer of Service programs put on by the corps — one in Sacramento, one in Denver and one in New Orleans. My team will be helping with the Summer of Service program in New Orleans. I thought I was done living in the dorms after I graduated from Fresno State University, but I am back staying in a dorm at Dillard University in New Orleans. Over the next few weeks, my team will act as support staff for anything and everything that has to do with Summer of Service. I hope this program is the beginning of long lives of service for all of the participants.