AmeriCorps Profile: Tori Stendeback

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Tori Stendeback spent two and a half weeks living on an air mattress inside of a Jewish community center’s banquet hall. Every time there was an event in the hall, Tori moved all of her stuff to a storage closet and waited for the event to end. After a long, hot day working for Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity, this living situation could be rather difficult.

In November of 2015, Tori ended her 11-month tour as an AmeriCorps NCCC member. During this tour, she traveled around the South working for various Habitat for Humanity affiliates. She would spend an average of six weeks in a given location, including New Orleans, Louisiana, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Two and half weeks of this 11-month tour, Tori spent sleeping on the air mattress that she had to drag in and out of a banquet hall.

Despite the challenges she encountered as an AmeriCorps NCCC member, Tori appreciated the time she spent in the program and will work with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity starting in August as a member of AmeriCorps State and National. In this branch of AmeriCorps, team members stay in one location working for a non-profit, rather than move every six weeks. She will live in a home with other AmeriCorps members in New Orleans and work for NOAHH for the duration of her time.

“I fell in love with the city and learned that there is still a lot more work to do,” Tori said. “I like the whole atmosphere down there. The music, the food, the people all get to me.”

Since ending her AmeriCorps tour, Tori misses construction work. She would rather work on a house alongside volunteers installing flooring and painting than at the Lowe’s near her home in Cumberland, Maryland. In particular, Tori misses giving the key to new home owners and watching their faces light up as they receive their long-sought home.

Nevertheless, Tori was not always as excited to work for Habitat for Humanity. Afraid of moving across the country, Tori did not want to leave her home town and pursue a job different from what other people in her town were doing. Her mom instigated her to seek out a job with AmeriCorps.

“Initially I didn’t want to do this,” Tori said. “Then you learn what a great feeling it is to make someone’s day, or life, or year.”

Since joining AmeriCorps and working for different branches of Habitat for Humanity around the South, Tori realized how much bigger her world could be. Now, she aims to work for NOAHH and expand that world even further.