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National Service Blog - Archive
by
Samantha Jo Warfield

By: CNCS Staff

To mark the one-year anniversary of the May 22 Joplin tornado, we’ll be featuring a variety of content on the serve.gov blog, including Q&As with those who served in the community, like this one.Question: What went through your mind when you first landed in Joplin?Simons: Despite having driven through the night to arrive the morning of the 23rd, I felt energized and ready to face the uncertainty that would be coming. I joined my team, who had arrived a few hours before, and stepped up to fill the holes that had not yet been met. While adrenaline was pumping through my veins, I actually felt a sense of calm because my team and I were prepared to get the process of our response started. Things were coming together in those first few hours by simply utilizing the resources and knowledge we had brought from our St. Louis office. We were getting things done.Question: Tell us about the moment that touched you most.Simons: While we had thousands of inspirational volunteers in Joplin, but a few really made an impact on me. One young man, Toshi, traveled from Japan to volunteer with us. While his community was still recovering from the terrible earthquake earlier that year, he devoted his time in a town he had never heard of: Joplin, Missouri. He was paying forward the American support that flooded to Japan after its disasters.While Toshi left us several inspirational stories, he told me that he wanted to take what he had learned in Joplin back home and create a volunteer center, one that would be ready to respond during a disaster. This led me to look back at my personal service trips to New Orleans and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina and how those volunteer trips influenced me. They inspired me to continue serving and to lead others into service in hopes that they will bring it back home with them.Question: How are you continuing your service?Simons: I signed up for a second year [in AmeriCorps] because I feel in love with AmeriCorps St. Louis and want to see it succeed. I want to continue to be a part of a program that had accomplished amazing things in the short time I had been serving. Being such a member driven program, I also felt that there was even more to gain from signing up for another year with AmeriCorps St. Louis.Question: How have you changed? What skills have you gained since first arriving in Joplin?Simons: My service during the Joplin Tornado response pushed me in to roles of responsibility and leadership that I couldn’t have ever imagined for myself. Now, I feel confident that I can and will succeed when I am faced with a challenge or opportunity that seems a little far out of reach.Question: What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? How has your service in Joplin influenced that vision?Simons: I am currently researching graduate programs in Public Administration with an emphasis in Emergency Management and Nonprofit Management. I hope to become a facilitator of change in our county. The Joplin response definitely had a big part in paving this path for me by allowing me to work directly with our State and Federal Emergency Management partners.

Keywords: Joplin, AmeriCorps NCCC, Disaster, Missouri
Employees at more than 500 Verizon locations donated over half a million dollars worth of school supplies in just three weeks.
Beverley is a volunteers with Prisoner Visitation & Support in rural West Virginia. Her experiences have allowed her to inspire others and be inspired. Through her visits, she hopes to serve as a role model for those inside and outside of the prison walls.
In 2007 we started the Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network as a student led extracurricular club devoted to helping the environment.
Working for a company for 25 years shows loyalty—volunteering for an organization for 25 years is much more than just loyalty. It is dedication, selflessness, and passion for what one does. Wanda Allen-Yearout is one of only a few individuals with this huge accomplishment, but she is very modest about it.
The University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA) Community Clinic is the first full-time community health center in the United States established by Muslims.
“We were called the ‘Mylar Boys.’ It was like a club.”
On Monday, Secretary Vilsack was in Zanesville, Ohio for a Rural Tour town hall focusing on green jobs and a new energy economy. After the forum, the Secretary visited Maple Terrace, a public housing facility for low-income senior citizens. He led an interfaith service event highlighting President Obama’s United We Serve volunteerism initiative. Secretary Vilsack joined local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders to distribute energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) to Maple Terrace residents.
When Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated asked its members to support United We Serve’s Summer Service Initiative, the ladies of the Xi Zeta Omega Chapter located in Washington, DC, joined right in to provide “service to all mankind.”
We had a great time in Lockwood on the last day of our Fire Ready Montana tour! It was a beautiful day and all the local fire and emergency officials were there, along with several community booths. Residents came out with their kids to meet Smokey Bear and enjoy the fire truck demonstrations. It truly was a community event!
The Sharing the Harvest Community Farm Project is a collaboration between the Dartmouth YCMA and the Greater New Bedford Hunger Commission of Southeastern Massachusetts, a program of the United Way.
Dr. Johari R.: "I consider helping people to find work as a ministry."
As an AmeriCorps Associate at the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) in Binghamton, NY, Dan launched the Dumpster Kitchen and pushed his community to see "waste" in a new light.
Students at Von Steuben High School painted a 15-foot mural depicting their experiences at Foster Beach in Chicago. The mural is a daily reminder of more than six years of monthly stewardship and seasonal adventures. “I like knowing that the trash we help to remove from the beach makes things better,” says teacher CarolLynn Chmielewski, who has headed the Von Steuben High School Environmental Action Club in adopting and caring for Foster Beach.
“We hope you will join us in our efforts to prevent the spread of malaria. It’s as simple as this: one bag saves one life,” says Leah.
After visiting with the President, I realized that volunteering here gives me the opportunity to, in a small way, repay those individuals who were so helpful to me during my crisis. Volunteerism also helps satisfy a need to be involved in solving some of the problems that we face in our community. In my case, delivering meals to the homebound has provided me the opportunity to serve longer.
UPS human resource employees had an opportunity to spend an afternoon working with Women on the Rise, an organization that supports parenting and early childhood education.
Senior citizens in Butte, Montana, shared their skills and talents with young campers learning to make crafts as part of the RSVP program.
Sara shares the story of Andrea, a guidance counselor at Vero Beach Elementary School, who used her time off this summer to volunteer with the Social Entrée Meals program at the Senior Resource Association of Indian River County, Florida.
Volunteers participated as victims in a simulated poisonous gas release. They went through triage on site then were transported to hospitals on both sides of the river. Afterwards several answered questions about their experience.
“With Ike’s devastation still so fresh on everyone’s mind, we are experiencing an increase in interest from people that desire to participate in training,” said Mark Sloan. “Current students in our class feel we are giving them more insight and greater ability to respond to disasters.”
These are the moments that make our job worth it. At any other camp, these kids would've been sent home days ago, but that's not true with us. We'll find some way to make it work. Because every kid deserves a chance to go to summer camp.
I have gotten more out of seeing the residences' smiles, their excitement, their love than I really can explain in words.
What started as a dozen families dancing in the woods turned into a major charitable organization - the Western Fraternal Life Association. Recently they mobilized their community to save antiques and educate local youth in the process.
These students found out what was important to members of their community and helped people dig deeper.
A Francophonic team of expert planners has developed a free, ultra low-tech, easy-to-make solution for students with the "I forgot my homework again" blues. Read the story and check out the video.
Volunteering at the Chicago Christian Industrial League was the first time I have ever worked side-by-side with someone who was in need. As we worked together, she showed me more than how to size up men with proper amounts of chili. She also showed me the heart of CCIL.
Interfaith Partnership/Faith Beyond Walls works with congregations and faith communities to promote peace, understanding and respect among people of all faiths and within the greater Saint Louis metro area.
Cisco employees decided that they wanted to “make an impact” and not just “write a check” for the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens in downtown San Jose, an area maintained entirely by volunteers. Thirty-eight Cisco employees rolled up their sleeves to clean and provide maintenance for the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens.
Joel Berg at the New York City Coalition Against Hunger works with community volunteers in 3 New York City neighborhoods to organize Community Supported Agriculture Projects - programs that make farm fresh produce accessible and affordable for all income levels.
My name is Carolyn and I am a volunteer at the Piney Creek Watershed Association (PCWA). I am so grateful that I was introduced to PCWA because it is a wonderful group of people who have a passion for the community, access to clean water and protecting the environment.

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