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by
Sacha Cohen

By: CNCS StaffTo 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: AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps NCCC, Disaster, Joplin, Missouri
In the aftermath of September 11th, we came together as a country to show that we were there for each other. This year’s National Day of Service and Remembrance once again reminded us of that unity.
Imagine a child cooped up inside a stuffy apartment building on a beautiful, sunny day because there’s no safe place to play outside. She has only unhealthy processed and fast foods to eat. This image is far removed from the nostalgic picture of a childhood summer filled with fun family vacations and camps. But for too many children, it is a reality that directly affects how ready they will be to move ahead in the classroom come September.
For Tina Kiehn, an AmeriCorps NCCC member in Aurora, IL, the morning of September 11, 2001, started out as a day like any other. She was at her service site, helping a class of first graders adjust to the new school year. With summer just behind them, Kiehn and her team expected a normal daily schedule: classes, recess, homework help.
President Obama marks the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks by remembering the innocent lives lost, and honoring the first responders and men and women in uniform who have served and sacrificed to keep our country safe.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service, and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
Eleven years later and the tide has surely turned, at least in one very significant way. The anniversary of September 11th is no longer only a day known for a horrific tragedy on our national landscape. It is now also America’s largest day of charitable service and good deeds, in honor of my late brother and all those who perished that sunny September morning.
For the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing how and why you should serve on the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. Now with 9/11 Day just around the corner, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, get out there, and serve!
The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance arrives in less than a week, but service projects have already begun, and more will take place this weekend and continue through 9/11 Day. If you don't have plans and are looking to serve, we have an overview of how volunteers across the country will pay tribute to and honor the victims and heroes of September 11th across the nation.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service, and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
There’s a saying that goes, “be ready, so you don’t have to get ready.” Every family and workplace needs to have a plan of action to keep everyone safe when the unexpected happens. Sounds like the perfect excuse to discuss National Preparedness Month.
September 11th can be a challenging topic for educators. For younger students who weren’t born or were very young in 2001, it’s history. For older students and teachers, it’s a vivid memory that may feel like a current event. Finding a way to make the day meaningful across the generations requires finesse and planning.
Since 1882, Americans have paused to observe Labor Day in a “yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” But before you enjoy a well-earned day off on September 3, consider giving a minute to help an unemployed or underemployed person find satisfying work and help transform the holiday into “Give Labor Day.”
Since 1882, Americans have paused to observe Labor Day in a “yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” But before you enjoy a well-earned day off on September 3, consider giving a minute to help an unemployed or underemployed person find satisfying work and help transform the holiday into “Give Labor Day.”
AmeriCorps and Senior Corps teams are responding in four Gulf Coast states as Hurricane Isaac moves toward the region.
My name is Ciera Russum and I'm a member of the Advanced Construction team at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School. We worked with the Green Building team to complete a full-gut rehab project on Greene Street.
With the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance just around the corner, many Americans will begin to reflect on the inconceivable tragedy of 9/11 and the incredible unity and service that emerged from it. While some of us may get lost in the quantitative measures of this disaster, it is important to appreciate the individual victim, hero, or survivor, as each has a unique story and personal testimony.
During Black History Month, we pause to salute and reflect on the contributions African Americans have made to the rich fabric that makes up the United States.There are many untold stories that reveal the best of Americans who stepped up when duty called, broke color barriers, or quietly made their communities better one person at a time.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service, and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
The St. Louis Safety Service Corps, commonly known as the Emergency Response Team (ERT), answered the call time and time again after natural disasters scarred communities across the Midwest in 2011.
The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance is less than one month away! Many communities and organizations around the nation are in the final stages of coordinating remembrance ceremonies and service activities to observe and reflect on the day.
As the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance draws closer, you may be making plans to join in with a service project of your own but then realize that you have no idea where to start. We can help you with that.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service, and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
Members of the group Game Changerz, also known as Sports Wives With Purpose, were in Washington recently, and we took the opportunity to ask them to talk about their favorite children’s books and the lessons they teach.
At the Corporation for National and Community Service, we hear and learn about amazing things happening through national service every day. But the best way to experience the power of national service isn’t in our headquarters in Washington, DC.
Originally presented in 2002 by 9/11 families and support networks, the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance honors the victims, survivors, and families of 9/11 through service-oriented programs. The 9/11 Day of Service has come to symbolize the culmination of our nation’s enduring unity, engaging millions of volunteers and communities each year.
Arriving in the United States is just the start of the journey for refugees like Alaa, an engineer from Iraq. Unable to find a job, his first few months in America were a struggle, as he tried to cover his most basic needs. Alaa was eager for a job – any job – to become self-sufficient while he studied to resume work as an engineer in a new country.
As we look ahead to this year’s September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance, let’s step back and consider why service is such an important part of this day.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service, and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
Earlier this year, President Obama celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Champions of Change program by bringing together a group of Champions to hear about the work they are doing to advance their communities.
On Aug. 1, 13 teachers gathered at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for STEM Fest, a panel discussion highlighting effective practices in STEM-based service-learning. Convened by Youth Service America (YSA), STEM Fest celebrated the teachers' achievements in implementing YSA's STEMester of Service, a program that introduced extended service-learning to middle school students to learn science, technology, engineering, and math by addressing local environmental issues.

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