As a part of the National Preparedness & Response Corps (NPRC), over 100 AmeriCorps members recently joined the ranks of the American Red Cross and will take positions in 21 chapters around the country to help communities be better prepared for disasters.
The NPRC is the national AmeriCorps grant-funded disaster preparedness and response program of the Red Cross. NPRC members commit to a total of 1,700 service hours and 11 months of full-time service to the Red Cross.
The “members allow us to reach so many more people in our region,” said Jamie Zuvich, a volunteer services employee for the Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Chapter. Zuvich’s chapter will host four NPRC members this year who will support local and national disaster response missions, spread preparedness messages in the community and help recruit volunteers.
The NPRC members attended a Summer Summit in Washington last week that concluded with an induction ceremony presided over by Wendy Spencer, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that runs the AmeriCorps program.
“Thank you for what I call the year of sacrifice,” Spencer said in her remarks. She commended the NPRC members for forgoing larger paychecks at other jobs and choosing a position serving the community through two extraordinary organizations.
The new NPRC members represented a range of ages and motives for getting involved. But they all had a similar desire to serve.
“I wanted to see what it’s like to get involved with disasters,” said Elizabeth Shaw, NPRC member and a recent college graduate. Interested in working for Doctors Without Borders, she felt the opportunity to work with AmeriCorps and the Red Cross would give her a better understanding of the field of disaster preparedness and response.
Tim Lehey, a NPRC member working in the Bay Area Chapter, joined the program for similar reasons. The program is “very much a good launching point for my long-term goals,” he said. Lehey hopes to join the Foreign Service one day and will be using his Spanish-language skills to prepare the Latino community in San Francisco for disasters.
But for Kathy Schnee who had lost her job and had a “heart for volunteering,” the program was able to fulfill her desire for a paycheck and to serve people in need. “I feel very blessed to be here,” she said.
The NPRC program has more than doubled its participants in the last two years due to a $1.6 million, three-year grant from CNCS. This is the second year of the grant cycle.
Learn More about NPRC
Readers interested in learning more about the National Preparedness & Response Corps can find more information on the program's Facebook page.
This post originally appeared on the American Red Cross web site on Aug. 15, 2013.