In the year she has spent leading The Fuller Center for Housing’s Americus-Sumter covenant partner, Alyssa Hostetler has been the kind of servant leader who works until the cows come home.
Now, she’s going home to the cows.
Hostetler is moving to Colorado to work on a farm. But not before we snagged her for a quick question-and-answer session on her way out the door. And that was not too difficult because she has run the covenant partner from a desk at The Fuller Center’s international headquarters in Americus.
What’s the best part of leading a covenant partner?
The best part is definitely all the people I’ve gotten to know, within The Fuller Center and the volunteers and homeowners that I’ve met. It’s really encouraging and exciting to be a part of the homeowners’ lives and to see how easy it is to affect somebody’s life and change somebody’s life for the better. It’s exciting. And I love the people here. I remember when I first started I was excited to come to work because the atmosphere is one where everyone is excited to be here, and no one is here because they have to be here. It’s been good to be among people who are so passionate about this amazing work.
Leading a covenant partner is work. What’s the toughest part?
Knowing that your decisions directly affect people’s lives make your decisions that much more important. Just the magnitude of it. It’s incredible how much need is out there. I feel like everybody that helped played such a huge role because there’s so much need for decent housing. And trying to get more people involved. I don’t think the volunteers realize how vital they are, but everyone who volunteers makes it a lot easier and helps take a load off.
What’s your top memory?
In March, we had some college groups here, and that was a lot of fun to see everybody so excited about coming. For a lot of them, it was a new experience. We worked a lot out at Koinonia, and for a lot of them just being part of a small town was exciting. I remember one girl commenting how funny it was that there were trees between all the houses and that she’d never been in such a “forest” before. It was just a lot of fun to have fresh enthusiasm and excitement and everyone wanting to learn new trades and tools. And the cards that they sent back were testament that it really was an exciting experience for them.
So you’re a fan of the Student Builders program, huh?
Absolutely! Not only do they bring in money that helps us do things we could never do otherwise, it’s great to have that enthusiasm and willingness to learn. I’ve noticed that it’s much easier and more helpful to have a volunteer with no experience but is willing to learn than somebody who has years and years of experience is so set in their way of doing things that they can’t work with other people.
How long have you been involved with the affordable housing movement?
Even in college (Hesston College), I worked with the Mennonite Disaster Service, so that would be five years, I guess.
What brought you to The Fuller Center for Housing and Americus?
Part of being with the Mennonite Disaster Service was finding somewhere to volunteer for eight weeks in something that’s housing-related. When I was looking for a place to volunteer, I got hooked up with Habitat’s international headquarters here in Americus. Even though it was the same kind of work, we were just working on volunteer houses and had no interaction with the homeowners. And I realized that’s where my passion lies, in working with the homeowners and being able to interact with them, not just the houses. So that’s how I started working with The Fuller Center on evenings and weekends with friends here who knew about building opportunities with The Fuller Center. It was so much fun! That’s what we were looking for, that interaction with the community.
You were on the 2011 Bicycle Adventure from Seattle to D.C., and then you rode the East Coast from Maine to Key West this summer. Any chance we’ll see you on another Bicycle Adventure?
I’d like to, but a year is a long way away and a lot can happen in a year, I’ve come to find out. But I’d like to. If I can make it happen, I’d like to at least do part of it. I do plan on helping with the Millard Fuller Legacy Build next year, too. But the Bicycle Adventure is incredible. I remember the first time thinking “This is crazy. I can’t do this. Why would anybody try?” And I never figured I’d do it again. But it’s incredible.