AmeriCorps members celebrate 20th anniversary by working

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - AmericaCorps members in South Mississippi celebrated the organization's 20th anniversary Sept. 12 the best way they know how. By working.

And, after their official swearing in-ceremony, there was the sweating-in ceremony.

For a week, AmeriCorps members and Habitat for Humanity have been renovating a 1,334-square-foot home in Gautier with a total cost of about $14,000.

Habitat for Humanity originally built the Gautier house in 2007, but after the family left, Habitat took back the house to get it ready for sale.

There are 75,000 AmeriCorps workers around the country. Five hundred work for Habitat, and eight of those are on the Coast.

Habitat and AmeriCorps have been partners since 1994 and during that time, more than 8,000 members have been helping to meet the housing needs of about 20,000 people.

Genie Talbert, came to AmeriCorps after volunteering to help the Coast rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

"I applied thinking I would stay maybe one year maybe two and then move on and do something else," she said. "I got down here and really loved it and really believe in what we are doing and enjoy having the opportunity to serve."

So much so, she's now in her fourth term.

Steven Bailey, 19, is from Michigan. This is his first year with AmeriCorps. His sister encouraged him to join.

"She learned about it and she quickly told me about it telling me all these cool, amazing stories about how AmeriCorps came down right after Katrina," he said. "And that just fired me up to come down here, because I just wanted to help out with that."

Denise Rybak moved to the Coast in 2009, inspired by the post Katrina recovery effort. She worked as an AmeriCorps member for a year, before joining the Habitat program as a supervisor.

Her favorite part?

"Honestly, I'd say when you get to meet the folks who are able to move into the homes," she said. "And, yeah, just that they'd have a nice place to live."

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.