For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Shane Ellanson. For the last year I have been working at Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Montana as an AmeriCorps VISTA handling community outreach and volunteer coordinating. All of the blog posts, social media posts, and volunteer events that you have seen or been a part of I have produced or lent a hand to make possible. The last twelve months have been great but AmeriCorps terms only last for one year and it is time for me to move on to the next step in my professional career. Before I go, I wanted to reflect on my experience and thank a few people who helped me.

When I joined the team here in Butte I was 22 years old and had just graduated college from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. I had no experience in the job that I was just brought in to do but my amazing supervisors Barbara Miller and Todd Hunkler gave me a chance because they liked the peace studies focus that I have on my Political Science degree and they believed in me. I hope that I have made you both proud of your decision to pick me as your VISTA for this year. Throughout my time here I have recruited/managed over 100 volunteers culminating into over 240 volunteer hours of work. I have helped to build partnerships in the community and met some amazing people that truly believe in the Habitat mission. Best of all, I have gotten to be a part of providing affordable, energy efficient housing to multiple low-income families in our community. Being a piece of that process has been the most rewarding thing that I have ever done, and I would encourage anyone reading this to get involved however you are able.

This year-long experience has given me so much that I will never forget. For one, it was my first full-time job, which has been a learning experience in itself. But it has also taught me that many people just need a little nudge to get involved in an amazing cause, like affordable housing. I have enjoyed being that nudge for the last twelve months. Most importantly it has allowed me the opportunity to find a career in volunteer engagement that I love doing and like to think I am pretty good at. Volunteer engagement was never in the plan as I worked through college, but I couldn’t be happier that I have found it. Again, thank you to Todd and Barbara for giving me this amazing opportunity that helped me find a career that I am so passionate about. You two have truly changed my life!

As December creeps up on us and the weather gets colder, I thought it was important to let the community know how amazing the whole team here at Habitat SWMT is and thank them for this amazing experience. Following my last day of work on December 6th, I will be heading back to Minnesota to begin working full-time with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity in St. Paul where I will get to continue doing this amazing work as an Engagement Associate. Thank you Barbara, Todd, Meagan, Shawn, Tracy, Beth, Maria, Arica, Nate, and everyone else who made this experience so enjoyable! It has truly been a privilege to get this opportunity and be able to work with you all, thank you! Also, thank you to the communities that I have been able to get to know and the volunteers that I have been able to work with. It has been great getting to know all of you and I appreciate your support of the Habitat mission.



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