Geri (she/they) has been familiar with their AmeriCorps service site, Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership, since their childhood on the White Earth Reservation. “Mahube does a lot for the community around here. My parents got a lot of help through it,” said Geri, remembering how Mahube helped their parents sometimes with the cost of fuel and electricity.
So when Mahube posted an AmeriCorps position through the Home Energy Initiative, Geri had a connection to it right away, and applied. The timing worked out as Geri had, like so many others during the pandemic, lost their job. “Knowing that Mahube helped a lot of people, I wanted to get in and start helping,” said Geri, who identifies as Anishinaabe.
The position with the Home Energy Initiative ended up being perfect for Geri, even aside from the connection to Mahube. Geri had worked in a variety of jobs in construction, home repair, and building maintenance, all of which have come in handy with the Home Energy Initiative. “I got to use all the skills I’ve built throughout my life,” Geri said. While they’ve been doing these various jobs, they’ve also been developing an interest in solar energy and energy efficiency, so the position was a great fit in that way too.
In their position with the Home Energy Initiative, Geri helps people figure out if they are eligible to weatherize their homes. They do this by performing a weatherization audit, which involves checking for vermiculite and asbestos, two substances which can be dangerous to have in the home particularly if the home is weatherized. Weatherization audits require particular expertise and equipment, which Geri has been trained in.
Weatherization allows for buildings to become more insulated and energy efficient so they can prevent heat from escaping the home. Right now, there’s a labor shortage of energy efficiency professionals who have the skills Geri does. That’s why next year, the Career Pathways program will cover the cost of getting a certification that will allow Home Energy Initiative members to become fully certified and be able to work long-term in the energy efficiency field.
With support from Mahube, Geri is planning on getting this same certification. With it, they’ll be able to sign off on audits themselves. It’s great news for Geri, since the position with Mahube has been a great combination of skills and interests, and they want to continue the position as a full-time job. “They asked me if I wanted to stay in my position. And I said, well, yeah. Everything I’ve done throughout my life, it’s in one job right here.”