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Sandy Scott

By: Sandy Scott In the wake of the nation’s deadliest tornado in six decades, more than 80 AmeriCorps members are working night and day to assist first responders and victims in the recovery efforts in Joplin, MO.With the death toll at 126, more than 700 people injured, and thousands of structures destroyed, the EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin last Sunday flattened everything in its path, leaving residents to scramble to find missing family members and find immediate shelter.RAPID DEPLOYMENTAmeriCorps members have traveled from near and far to Joplin to help coordinate relief efforts. Among the first on the ground was a group from the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team, an AmeriCorps program that acts as a multi-functional rapid deployment group that has provided immediate and long-term disaster response to disasters in 29 states over the past 17 years.As soon as word came of the devastation in Joplin, a team of AmeriCorps St. Louis ERT members packed their equipment and drove through the night to Joplin, arriving at 2:30 a.m. on Monday, not knowing where they would sleep but ready to get to work.They quickly went into action to open a Missing Persons Hotline for individuals to register a profile of those who have not been accounted for after the deadly tornado. By 5:30 a.m., the AmeriCorps team had set up a 24-hour Missing Persons Hotline with the help of IT staffers at Missouri Southern State University.Megan MacDougall, an AmeriCorps member who set up and is now overseeing the call center, said thousands of calls have been logged since the hotline opened. Callers give a detailed description of missing family or friends that goes into a database accessible to the Sheriff’s Office, Highway Patrol, Family Assistance Office, and search and rescue teams. The Missouri Department of Public Safety, which oversees the missing person’s effort, yesterday released a list of 232 individuals for whom an official missing persons report had been filed.“We’ll stay here until we’re no longer needed,” said MacDougall, who hopes to find a job working on disaster relief when her year in AmeriCorps ends.AmeriCorps members are also in the community, with teams of AmeriCorps members leading groups of 40-50 volunteers into Joplin to clear roads and debris to ensure first responders can maneuver effectively in search and rescue missions. AmeriCorps members are also registering and managing volunteers, overseeing a donation warehouse, and conducting needs assessments.Stephanie Jackson, an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team leader from Denver, is managing the donations warehouse at Missouri Southern State University. Her team, one of four NCCC teams in Joplin, had been working in St. Louis for the previous three weeks responding to the Good Friday tornado when they were redeployed to Joplin on Monday night.Jackson said her team got two hours of sleep the night they arrived by didn’t mind as they were eager to get to work. “We couldn’t wait to get here to help. It makes me feel alive and I know I am making a difference.”Twelve AmeriCorps members from Skagit and Yakima counties in Washington State are also serving in Joplin. These AmeriCorps members, part of the Washington Conservation Corps, were redeployed from St. Louis and are assisting in the distribution center, volunteer intake center, and clean up efforts.The AmeriCorps members in Joplin are part of a much larger national service response to the devastating floods and tornadoes that have struck the South and the Midwest this spring. Hundreds of AmeriCorps members and RSVP volunteers are serving in Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.AGENCIES WORKING TOGETHERThe Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, is working closely with FEMA and state officials in Missouri and other states to effectively use national service resources. The agency is deploying four staff members to Missouri to provide assistance to deployed AmeriCorps service projects including project development, logistical support, safety assurance, coordination among voluntary agencies, and support in the various federal and inter-agency disaster offices.“This spring has seen an unprecedented series of disasters for our country. I’m proud our national service participants have put their skills and training to work to provide critical assistance to our fellow Americans who are facing such devastation,” said Kelly DeGraff, senior advisor for disaster services at CNCS. “AmeriCorps members were on the scene within hours after the tornado struck, and we’ll be there for the long haul.”Learn more about ways to donate or volunteer to support Joplin. For more information on national service disaster response, visit our Disaster Services webpage.

Keywords: Joplin, Missouri, AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps NCCC, Disaster
The 2014 Martin Luther King Day of Service is a little more than a month away, and now is the time to order materials to promote the event and join Americans across the nation who will be volunteering in their communities.
As she attended classes in the California Bay Area, Naomi Shachter was struck by AmeriCorps’ ability to transform the lives of students in her high school. AmeriCorps members served as mentors, advocates, teachers, and friends. “I saw what a big difference service in the community could make,” she said.
Today Americans are remembering the legacy of President John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Many in the national service family were inspired by his life, and his legacy lives on through AmeriCorps VISTA, one of the anti-poverty programs he envisioned before his untimely death.
When President Obama announced the Task Force on Expanding National Service in July, he asked federal agencies to work together to create a pipeline for national service participants to apply the skills they learned in the federal sector. Last week, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced new guidance from that will affect past, current, and future AmeriCorps members and other national service participants.
As you are undoubtedly aware, the impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippines has been astonishing. The typhoon has caused widespread damage, including landslides and flooding, and is expected to claim the lives of thousands.
In Gen. George Washington’s farewell orders to the Continental Army, he encouraged the soldiers who united in battle to not only maintain their bond as a “patriotic band of Brothers” but to carry forward the virtues they had learned during military service when they returned home. His wisdom still rings true today, as we see example after example of our soldiers continuing to serve their communities after their military commitments end.
James Randall “Randy” Hindert served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam as a Sergeant from 1967-1970. Recently, he began serving our nation again, this time in the local community as a tutor for AmeriCorps at Big Brothers/Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties in Florida.
National service comes in many shapes and sizes. Tens of thousands of men and women answer the call to join the Armed Forces each year, and quickly find themselves inundated with the unique demands and expectations of their respective military branches. Many others choose to serve via Peace Corps or AmeriCorps programs, which offer their own unique challenges, not dissimilar from the military. I have had the unique experience of serving in both and have come to believe in the value of both.
He spent 10 years stationed in Fort Bragg, NC; two years in Italy; and more than one year in Iraq. Now his service continues here, on the homefront, as he helps save lives and rebuild communities.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is committed to providing opportunities that change the lives of those who serve, as well as those being served. With this commitment, we can create avenues for people with disabilities to greater economic opportunity through the service experience in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.
It’s nearly impossible to find a silver lining in events like Hurricane Sandy. But the outpouring of volunteers from the affected communities and around the country who pulled together after the storm to do anything from running shelters, to feeding the displaced, to mucking and gutting homes revealed the heart of a caring nation.
While Hurricane Sandy showed nature at its worst, the response showed human nature at its best.  The courage and resilience of survivors was an inspiration to the nation. And the outpouring of compassion by volunteers from the local community and across the nation has been critical to the region’s recovery.    
Last week, Veronica Boda returned to her Brigantine, NJ, home to pick up her favorite blankets. This weekend, she’ll go back to sort through winter clothes. Veronica is one of many survivors of Hurricane Sandy still struggling to adjust to life after last year’s storm.
When Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast last year, areas that rarely saw a storm of that magnitude discovered what it was like to live through a disaster. Experiences like this reinforce what it really means to say that we’re all in this together.
“In the month and a half my team was in New York, the progress I witnessed was absolutely incredible. Although we all were frequently exhausted by the various assignments we had been given each day, it truly makes it all worth it when you can step back and realize that you've played even a small part in such a huge recovery effort.”  -- FEMA Corps member Elizabeth McSherry
One year ago, Hurricane Sandy left a trail of destruction in its wake across six states, doing the most damage in heavily populated areas of New Jersey and New York. The recovery that followed – and even continues to this day -- required a massive response and thousands of national service members joined their fellow Americans to answer the call for help.
On a late September afternoon sprinkled with snow flurries, eight young adults in mud-streaked protective bodysuits and breathing masks installed blankets of insulation to the underside of a weather-worn cabin in the Alaskan Bush.
Each day, thousands of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps national service members devote themselves to service that directly impacts the lives of children around the country.
On Saturday, PBS stations across the country aired programming to highlight solutions to the nation’s high school dropout crisis during the second American Graduate Day. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) joined our partners at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and WNET in New York in support of the effort.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recognized seven outstanding programs and participants with the 2013 National Service Impact Awards.
Is it possible to effectively harness youthful enthusiasm and idealism and turn it into it a renewable resource for good? We think so. Twenty years ago, President Clinton signed a bill that created AmeriCorps and gave our country a new outlet for national service that did just that.
Americans from around the country commemorated the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks with prayer, reflection, and remembrance.
Twelve years ago this month, nearly three thousand innocent men, women, and children lost their lives in attacks meant to terrorize our Nation. They had been going about their day, harming no one, when sudden violence struck. We will never undo the pain and injustice borne that terrible morning, nor will we ever forget those we lost.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are participating in volunteer service activities today to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary on the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) leads the annual effort to pay tribute to and honor the victims and heroes of 9/11 through service.
Each September, Americans pause to remember the 9/11 victims and survivors, and the responders who defined courage in the aftermath of the attacks.
To strengthen our communities, we have to break down the barriers that can discourage Americans from building a better life for themselves and their families. Whether these barriers to economic opportunity are structural or behavioral, change is possible, and our AmeriCorps VISTAs are leading the way by creating partnerships that support service as a solution to our nation's challenges.
Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I Have A Dream speech.
This weekend, First Lady Michelle Obama appeared in Parade Magazine and applauded the success of Let’s Move! Whether in school cafeterias or at the Kids' State Dinner, First Lady Michelle Obama has consistently promoted nutrition and getting active throughout her time at the White House. 
It’s back-to-school time. In the upcoming weeks, children across the country will be asked this quintessential question: “What did you do this summer?”  The answer for nearly 3,000 Baltimore elementary students may surprise you.
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.

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