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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
When disaster strikes, often a home fire, John and other team members are on the spot to help those affected. He finds out what’s needed and may arrange hotel lodging and provide funds for immediate needs.
What happens to those elementary students who do not need special education, but need additional help in the classroom? Darlene, a former teacher, asked that question and decided to take action.
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.
As a longtime blood donor, Kerri P. knows the importance of giving blood. But she never knew that the need for blood would hit so close to home. Her two-year-old daughter, Mary Clare, was born with a heart defect.
MillionTreesNYC is a 10-year initiative to plant and care for one million new trees throughout the City’s five boroughs.
On June 25th, Molly S headed to a block party, but not for the festivities. Instead, she was busy pre-screening individuals for SNAP (food stamp) benefits - work that she describes as "the most rewarding."
I have been a Red Cross Volunteer affiliated with the Washtenaw County Chapter in Ann Arbor, Michigan for almost 4 years. Because I have a full time job, I cannot volunteer as much as I would like but am able to find 8 or so hours a week to join in the efforts of a fixture of my hometown.
The blind leading the young: DC area woman can't see, but she can read, and she tutors kids to help prevent summer learning loss.
A community comes together to make the quality of living better for one little girl and, in turn, everyone benefits.
This post from the Arizona Republic just scratches the surface of a great story of service, and how we can help increase volunteerism around the nation.
I am an advocate for energy efficiency.
I have been a Community Emergency Response Team member in Cobb County, Georgia since 2004. It all started with my desire to help my family and neighbors to survive a disaster.
A 15 year old sophomore at Great Oak High School in Temecula, contacted Melissa, the Unit Director at the Great Oak Clubhouse in Temecula, CA. She was looking for a community service project that would truly have impact on the community and make a difference for children in her own town.
One recent graduate finds a renewed sense of purpose in her volunteer efforts.
The Columbus Crew, the 2008 Major League Soccer champs, took Washington, DC, by storm on July 13. First stop was the White House, where they were honored by President Obama for winning the championship and for serving their community.
I am the day to day manager of a nonprofit farmers' market that was founded in February, 2008 with the mission of growing and sustaining a local food economy in and around Pass Christian, Mississippi.
One man has found a way to share his art with the world's most appreciative audience.
Can you imagine a program where teachers have to submit grant proposals to their students? Check out how these middle-schoolers in Florida are taking charge of their education and their communities.
After watching a news story about his local food bank, Peter N. decided to tackle hunger head on and started "One Can a Week."
Nearly 50% of residents of Lansing Michigan are living at or near poverty levels. In an effort to help residents stretch their financial resources and improve their access to nutritious, locally grown foods, the Old Town Commercial Association is sponsoring the first ever Community Garden project.
The US Forest Service has hosted a volunteer historic preservation program called "Passport in Time" since 1989.
Getting to know your neighbors is one of the most meaningful ways to keep your communities safe.
These ten men are answering the president's call to service from within the walls of their correctional facility. Hear what they have to say.
On June 22, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan kicked off United We Serve by volunteering with the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans, LA.
Libraries across the country provide opportunities for young people to stay engaged this summer. The Department of Education is fighting summer learning loss and asking all Americans to help children and youth develop a passion for reading. What will you do?
First Lady Michelle Obama helps build a new playground in San Francisco, discusses the importance of service in tackling our nation's greatest challenges and discovers her new favorite tool - the ratchet.
Broward in south Florida is known for more than just hanging chads! Families get books and encouragement to keep reading, and PTA commits to staying engaged.
Welcome to the United We Serve "Stories of Service" blog! In this blog we’ll be featuring news, updates, and some of the remarkable stories of service we’ve been getting from Americans across the country are answering President Obama’s call to service. For our first post, we’re thrilled to highlight Major League Baseball’s grand slam effort in support of United We Serve at tonight’s All-Star Game.
On June 22nd, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar joined volunteer and youth groups at Shenandoah National Park as part of a national kickoff for President Obama’s new “United We Serve” campaign.
On June 23, 2009 St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP) launched its first volunteer-based weatherization project under the President’s United We Serve initiative.

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