Shernice Davis always knew she wanted to help people. She has dabbled in a lot of professions: business school, nursing school, and even work as a medical assistant. None of these experiences felt quite right, and she just needed some time to sort out exactly what field suits her best. Then, everything changed when her own housing situation literally went up in flames. In 2019, Shernice’s home caught fire and her whole family, including her 2-year-old son, lived out of a hotel while she continued to go to work. She applied for an AmeriCorps position through Metro Housing Boston and was given the position on the spot during her interview. Shernice graduated from the LISC AmeriCorps program in 2020 and has been hired full time at Metro Housing as a RAFT coordinator.
The Americorps program was transformative for Shernice, as she grew her passion for housing. During the fellowship year, she had a slightly different experience than other fellows given the onset of COVID-19. Instead of building a volunteer management program as she had been initially hired to do, she had the opportunity to learn from different departments and programs, such as RAFT applications, HomeBASE, and the Department of Neighborhood Development.
The Mel King Institute trainings that accompany the LISC Americorps program provided an excellent accompaniment to Shernice’s work at Metro Housing. Her favorite was Intro to Housing Development with Maura Camosse-Tsongas. In the pre-COVID era, they were able to get together and complete an interactive project with useful pieces of knowledge, including tax credit units, low-income home development, and financial sources for affordable housing. Shernice still uses content from the course today when working with case managers and clients. She feels better equipped to explain complex concepts like tax credit units to individuals who are seeking assistance.
The Americorps program helped to mold Shernice and allowed her the space to learn more about herself. Partnered with MKI trainings, Shernice was able to gain a wide range of knowledge, that both helped her figure her own self-discovery, and figure out next steps of her career. The passion to help others remains, and Shernice is now able to channel that energy towards helping others in her community.
In her words,
“When I walk down the street, I see the struggle and the homelessness in my community that’s so high. And if I could just keep one person in their house at a time, it makes me feel that I’m making a difference in my community…they say you never know what happens until it happens to you. You hear about people with their houses going up in flames and suddenly everything is taken from them and they end up homeless. And you feel so bad for them. And then a year and a half ago, my house went up in a fire and we lost everything and we had to rebuild from scratch. The passion behind [working in affordable housing] to keep going and to go so hard is because I know what it feels like.”
When asked about her future plans, Shernice simply wants to make a difference in any way that she can. Whether it is working at Metro Housing, or buying a homeless person a meal, or giving someone her jacket, Shernice feels strongly about giving back. Her experience losing her own home made her realize what matters most in times of hardship. As she puts it, “The TV, the clothes, those are materialistic things. I can’t get another mother. I can’t get another sister. I can’t get another father. I can’t get another son.” Shernice looks forward to continuing to make an impact through her work in affordable housing and giving back to the community development field.