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Samantha Jo Warfield

By: Samantha Jo WarfieldAt 2:00 AM, on May 23rd, just eight hours after a deadly EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin, MO, the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team arrived in a community devastated by the latest in a string of natural disasters.The team immediately got to work setting up a Missing Persons hotline in collaboration with the Missouri Southern State University IT Department and had it up and running by 6:00 AM the next morning, just 12 hours after the tornado struck Joplin. Throughout the recovery process, this hotline has been the hub for missing persons and is crucial to the work of law enforcement and emergency response crews.While AmeriCorps teams often must wait until a disaster area is declared safe, the AmeriCorps St. Louis ERT was close and the need was great, so the first 11-person team headed to Joplin without knowing where they would stay, sleep, or work. An AmeriCorps NCCC team followed closely behind, and all together nearly 100 AmeriCorps members from six teams have coordinated more than 12,000 unaffiliated volunteers in more than 49,000 hours of service to the victims of the Joplin tornado.It is this kind of courage and determination that defines the AmeriCorps program and the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Disaster Service’s Unit. While in the field at FEMA’s Regional Response Coordinating Center, CNCS Senior Advisor for Disaster Services, Kelly DeGraff, reported via text and cell. Even as the self-described “Northeastern gal” experienced her first-ever tornado by taking cover in the local FEMA bunker, she was committed to telling the story of volunteers on the ground.AmeriCorps members and volunteers are doing tremendous work in an area struggling to recover and rebuild after being ripped apart by a powerful natural disaster. A few of them took a moment to reflect on how this experience has touched them:

  • On Saturday of Memorial Day weekend our AmeriCorps Team managed over 3,500 volunteers to recover disaster victims’ personal belongings from the wreckage of their homes. Between myself and one other AmeriCorps member we oversaw over 150 people working on four properties. We had a great deal of responsibility because we had to ensure the safety of so many untrained volunteers working in an unstable and destroyed environment, as well as make sure that the volunteers were able to recover the homeowners treasured possessions. I remember one homeowner returning to what was once her home and being brought to tears by the sight of over 40 strangers helping her bring some order to her life and recovering the photographs and material things which make up so many of the memories of her life.

                                                                          – Will M., AmeriCorps St. Louis

  • Without AmeriCorps coordinating the volunteers to the Joplin tornado, the disaster response would be out of control and lack the organization necessary to execute an effective recovery.

                                      – James Woodworth, Voluntary Agency Liaison, FEMA

  • During the Joplin relief effort, AmeriCorps has played a key role in connecting affected residents with the resources they need. Be it food, donations, or volunteer labor, AmeriCorps has worked long, hard hours to ensure the needs here in Joplin are being met. As a team leader in the field, I have led groups of volunteers – upwards of 80 at a time – in clearing debris and fallen trees from affected properties. Without AmeriCorps leading and coordinating the efforts of these volunteers, residents would not have access to the organized volunteer workforce that many of them need to recover and rebuild following this disaster.

                                                                 – Chris Matthews, AmeriCorps NCCC

  • AmeriCorps members have such an impact in these broken communities. With our boots on the ground, we have gone door to door shaking hands and helping storm victims in any way possible. As we searched through the wreckage, Eric found a Purple Heart. With the help of neighbors, we were able to return the medal to the homeowner, who was extremely thankful.

                                        - Matthew McKenney, Minnesota Conservation Corps

  • An AmeriCorps member leading a group of volunteers found a homeowner’s pet dog that had been buried under rubble from the Joplin tornado for a week. They then were able to track down the dog’s owner who had, unfortunately, lost his home and family in the tornado. Needless to say, the man was overjoyed by the discovery.

                                        –Mark Wilson, AmeriCorps, Iowa Conservation CorpsLearn more by visiting the CNCS Disaster Services page or read about some of the recent recovery and response work our AmeriCorps and RSVP members have been a part of.

Keywords: Joplin, AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps NCCC, Disaster, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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