US Flag AddThis Social Bookmark Button

 

Home United We Serve National Service
Mobile Menu Button
National Service Blog - Archive
by
Sacha Cohen

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?Gardner: When I first got to Joplin, my immediate concern was connecting with my AmeriCorps St. Louis team and starting to problem solve and make sure the people that had been serving through the night could get some rest. It took days for me to have an emotional reaction because of the need to produce for our AmeriCorps Team, the volunteers, and of course the community of Joplin.I am so grateful that my three years with the Emergency Response Team prepared and enabled me to respond in a mechanical way, supporting my team and all our operations to just focus on getting things done, and emotionally processing the devastation later.Question: Tell us about the moment that touched you most.Gardner: As a non-profit, AmeriCorps St. Louis relies on conservation projects to produce funds we can use to support of disaster responses without burdening the local community. Within a few weeks we started to downsize the number of AmeriCorps members in Joplin so they could return to conservation projects and earn funds to support our operations and continue the disaster work in St. Louis and the South East that we had been engaged in before Joplin.We had a team debrief and it was instantly clear to me that this operation was a defining moment for the team. All of the training, team building, and seemingly “meaningless” projects they had engaged in prior had truly prepared them to produce and lead other programs’ members to producing incredible, life-altering results. That group hug, the pride, team work, love and family that is the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team is something I will never forget.Question: In what ways has National Service had the greatest impact in Joplin?Gardner: I don’t think there is one answer to this, or any way to summarize what AmeriCorps, specifically AmeriCorps St. Louis – which has provided to consistent leadership over the last year – has contributed to Joplin. I also don’t think there is a way to summarize what Joplin has contributed to AmeriCorps, or how the strength of the community has affected every single volunteer and AmeriCorps members.If I had to say one thing, it is that we are committed to being there to help the community recover until they do not need us any longer. I know that consistency and dedication has meant the world to the community. Many groups have come and gone.. Our team, truly committed to Joplin, has been there every single day (except the major holidays) doing direct service, and giving others a coordinated way to impact the community.Question: What convinced you to sign up for a second year of service?Gardner: Now in my forth year, that seems like a lifetime ago. I remember the end of my first term with the Emergency Response Team and feeling like I was just getting started. I wasn’t ready for the adventure, the relationships, or the lifestyle to end. So I began year two, and then three, and now four. And in all the struggles and difficult moments, the Ameri-Family, the love and commitment of each member to the team, and to national service, inspires me to keep going, to keep learning and growing, and of course, to keep givingQuestion: How have you changed? What skills have you gained since first arriving in Joplin after the storm?Gardner: The past year has been life changing is a variety of ways. I like to think my leadership, my ability to handle stress, and my ability to balance results with relationships have all improved. Before Joplin I thought I had a wide and strong network of disaster contacts. Now, I know that I have that network, and that network isn’t just contacts but a family.The relationships I have formed while serving with AmeriCorps St. Louis are irreplaceable. And that is a lesson Joplin helped reinforce. In a time where technology removes so much of personal contact, I am reminded that trusted relationships cannot be replaced. There is so much to be gained, personally and for the mission, by sincerely caring about those you serve and work alongside.Question: What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? How has your service in Joplin influenced that vision?Gardner: I have been offered a unique position with the State of Missouri, focusing on preparedness and response, and am looking forward to that new challenge. As long as I am serving others and contributing to the greater good I feel like any life path I choose will make me happy. Joplin helped solidify my specific interest in emergency management and the value of the whole community approach.

Keywords: Joplin, AmeriCorps, Disaster, AmeriCorps NCCC, Missouri
Students at Scituate High School decided that their school was not “green” enough and decided to take action by entering Do Something’s “Increase Your Green” competition, where students across the nation competed to see who could get their school to be the most environmentally friendly.
As a part of United We Serve's Community Renewal Issue Week, USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan worked alongside volunteers at the Cleveland Food Bank to prepare sandwiches for hungry children.
These local kids aren't letting summer pass them by - they're taking action to keep learning and to make their community better.
I know as I look back on this year, I will regard it as one of the most transformational experiences of my life.
One woman's personal satisfaction in service.
A Big Brother volunteer in St. Louis helps out at the MLB All-Star Game
Working with other community organizations, businesses, the City Council, Solano County, faith-based groups, non-profits, WIA and colleges, I am happy to report that we are helping to develop youth training programs, which empower youth to finish school and get jobs. Solano Community College also plans to have a Green Center, teaching green job practices, which will lead to more jobs with livable wages.
Young Sabrina was acting out and needed some extra help staying focused in school. Carol, a Foster Grandparent, is helping her make it through.
We all know the Red Cross responds to natural disasters through stories and pictures that generate horror, sympathy for lives that were lost or uprooted, admiration for selfless dedication of volunteers, and the dreadful conditions in which they worked. However, they were also remote, happening to other people in other places. In February of 2007, my concept of the Red Cross was forever changed.
Volunteers from the Grand County Senior Center and member of the Delicate Stitchers Quilt Guild give "Children in Crisis" a sense of stability with Love Bags.
When Darius decided to boldly take action, he was able to make an impact in his life and the lives of countless others.
Over 4,500 pounds of water chestnut were hand pulled from the pond in just one day, a volume of 14 cubic yards.
On June 14, 2009 groups of volunteers emerged to “Go Beyond” and help clean and restore the baseball field and park surrounding the Roller and Recreation Facility in St. Louis, Missouri.
Rain or shine, we show up to parks on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons to read to anyone who wants to listen.
The state of Oklahoma knows too well the devastation that disasters can cause. Whatever type of disaster, such as tornadoes, flooding, or terrorist attacks (such as the bombing of the Murrah Building) the physical, emotional and financial harm to people and property can be enormous.
A week of volunteering in rural Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia opens Abraham's eyes and pushes him to serve in his own community and beyond.
Over a six-week session 16 kids called the "Skilleteers" planned, filmed, and starred in a children's cooking show that now airs on CAT TV in Columbia, Missouri.
LHVA is currently building a 40-mile trail along the Lackawanna River. A mile and a half of it runs through Scranton and this section of the trail tends to be one of the dirtiest areas
The NFL Players Association and its players have joined President Barack Obama in his mission to build a stronger nation through the “United We Serve” initiative, a national effort designed to encourage more Americans to serve their communities.
In the summer of 2006, saddened by the sight of local schoolyards that had been abandoned by children and occupied by troublemakers and drug users, Marco and Jennifer Chiappetta began reaching out to youth in their community. What started out as a single game of catch has evolved into a powerful mentorship program that is shifting the culture of their neighborhood. On Monday, July 20th the New York Yankees helped celebrate the Chiappettas as part of their HOPE Week.
Reports state that families of children with special needs are 80% more at risk for divorce, and the children are 30% more at risk for out of home placement. Respite days help families to cope with the stress of caring for these special children.
Nearly 800 million people in the world cannot read. This is only one story.
On June 23rd, Nothing But Nets engaged youth in a global campaign to fight one of the biggest killers in Africa, malaria.
“Will you marry me?” were the last words I expected to hear on my first day of volunteering with Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN).
My name is Mitch and I am a volunteer fishing instructor for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and an Anglers’ Legacy Ambassador. The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) Anglers’ Legacy Program is a nationwide mentoring program to introduce newcomers to fishing and boating.
In Minnesota, a collaborative of citizens has emerged to provide a forum for veterans to share their stories and begin the process of healing.
On Saturday, July 11th, over 300 volunteers turned out for the first of a year long monthly Downtown Skidrow Clean Up Initiative in Los Angeles.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius knows how important early childhood literacy is. Do you?
A group of 60 teens from 25 schools in Kentucky raises over $30,000 and does more than 3,000 hours of service each year.
At Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School in Tennessee, a group of students decided to take Do Something’s “Increase Your Green” challenge, where students across the nation competed to see who could make their school most environmentally friendly.

Pages

Stay in Touch

Follow us on the following social networks, to ensure that you are always up to date!

Facebook Icon
Twitter Icon
YouTube Icon

 

 

CNCS Logo

Tell us how we're doing: serviceinitiative@cns.gov

National Service websites:

 

Back to Top