Learning and Growing as AmeriCorps

When he was four years old, Henry Bost was 20 blocks away from the World Trade Center on September 11.

“When we were finally granted access by the police to return home that night, the shock wave had broken all of the windows, coating our apartment in a layer of the ‘dust’,” he said. “We were displaced and ended up living in student apartments. This gave all of us a first-hand experience of what it is like to be displaced from your home by tragedy.”

When Henry was eight years old, his grandfather called to let them know he was evacuating New Orleans to North Carolina.

“My grandfather’s house had upwards of 10 feet of water,” Henry said. “He was never able to return.”

He and his two moms visited the city many times, and he spent a summer interning with an architectural preservation and consulting firm here. After going to college for a few years, he decided a different path was more appropriate.

“My parents were supportive of this, under the condition that I found something ‘real’ to do with my time,” he said. “They suggested me doing a year of Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans and experiencing all that the city had to offer.”

Henry learned so much in his first year with NOAHH as an AmeriCorps construction crew leader that he decided to return for a second. “I was challenged a lot by the demands of the job and felt that I had at least another year’s worth of experience to gain and skills to learn,” he said.

AmeriCorps is a national program for young people who serve at nonprofits around the country for a year, learning new skills and making life-long connections.

“It made me grow and mature in ways I would never have envisioned prior to starting my term,” Henry said.

AmeriCorps members are trained by NOAHH staff and support site supervisors. They often lead volunteers groups and teach them the day’s tasks. Henry found unexpected ways to use skills he already had.

“Roofing in the summer sun with two French interns who didn’t speak much English was interesting,” he laughed. “I used my eight years of French classes to convey the key points of rooftop safety as best I could. ‘Vous ne fall off the roof pas, d’accord?’ They got the idea.”

To be a New Orleans Habitat AmeriCorps, email americorps@habitat-nola.org.