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  1. Wayne Rucker: Reconstructing himself after a difficult life.

    “Service is one of the things that keeps me alive,” says Wayne Rucker.

    Rucker, 28, serves for Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia through the AmeriCorps program. As part of the Pennsylvania affiliate’s Weatherization and Home Repair Program, he helps low-income homeowners with projects ranging from replacing roofs to insulating windows and painting porches.

    Rucker overcame many obstacles in his own life to get here. He was raised mostly by his grandmother, with some time spent in foster care and juvenile institutions. As a teenager, he ran away and began living on the streets.

    “I always was a problem child,” he says. “I was suspended from school about 180 times.”

    Between the ages of 18 and 21, Rucker was arrested several times on drug charges and other offenses. At 22, he was sentenced to five years in prison on weapons charges.

    When he got out of prison in 2013, he vowed not to fall back into his old ways.

    “I knew I wanted to be something better,” he says.

    AmeriCorps, in partnership with EducationWorks and the Philadelphia Youth Network, had just launched a new initiative in Philadelphia called PowerCorpsPHL, combining environmental stewardship with intensive job placement support for young adults in need of direction.

    Rucker was in the first PowerCorps class, which planted trees, revitalized green spaces and served on watershed preservation. He says he connected with nature in a way he never had before.

    “It helps me get a greater perspective on life,” he says.

    When Rucker finished his PowerCorps class, he went straight into the AmeriCorps program with Habitat for Humanity.

    “When I came home from prison, I did a lot of reconstruction on myself, to get rid of the old me,” he says. “It takes a whole lot of energy and drive and determination to reconstruct yourself as a new person. But that’s what I did.”

    Through serving others, he found himself.


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