AmeriCorps Profile: Henry Gillespie-Hill
Henry Gillespie-Hill first visited New Orleans in 2013 while his brother, Joe, was an AmeriCorps with NOAHH. He joined his brother on site and visited the French Quarter and other local attractions. While what he saw in the Quarter did not impress him (“too hectic”), what he saw of his brother on the work site did.
“I really got to see how much he had learned and how comfortable he had become in this totally different role,” he said. “It was great to see how close he had become with his fellow AmeriCorps members and how they had grown into such an effective team.”
Henry would go on to serve with NCCC FEMA Corps at the Red Cross, the Sandy Recovery Office, Rebuilding Together, and other organizations before serving here at NOAHH as an AmeriCorps Direct. His breadth of experience took him all over the country, and when it came time to apply for Direct positions, he did not at first consider New Orleans.
“I actually applied to several affiliates across the country, and New Orleans was never my first choice.” He said, “But after looking at the benefits they were able to provide and the lengths they went to to make their AmeriCorps members feel welcome and be successful, it became my number one.”
Despite not being his first choice, he has found certain qualities of the city appealing. Comparing New Orleans to other cities he lived in while serving with NCCC, he said he finds New Orleans to be a different experience.
“I’ve lived in NYC and DC while I was an NCCC member, and those cities just seemed so inaccessible compared to New Orleans. The people, the size, the culture all feel very welcoming and manageable.” He said, “So far, my favorite experiences in the city have been getting to see live music. I’m a huge music fan and music is so integral to the New Orleans culture.”
The same experiences he saw his brother having–team building and giving back–have come true for Henry as well.
“Being on a construction crew has made me feel closer to being part of a team than anything else since playing high school sports. I love team work and I like to think that some of my greatest strengths come out when I’m working as part of a team. Additionally, the hands-on aspect of our work is fantastic… [I]t feels better to be someone providing a solution, than simply a spectator of issues like poverty and urban decay.”
As for Joe, he has gone on to college at St. John’s College and is beginning his junior year after interning with the District Attorney in Annapolis.