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
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 more than 40 years, RSVP has delivered proven results and engaged millions of Americans 55 and over in national and community service. This Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) program is a win-win for America, as senior volunteer service benefits the health of the adult volunteers and addresses vital needs in the communities they serve. Last week, Senior Corps opened its 2013 RSVP Competition.
One of the major factors that contribute to children falling behind in reading is the learning loss that occurs during summer break. Low-income students, in particular, lose two to three months in reading achievement over the summer.
The 2012 Summer Games are in full swing, and while our U.S. athletes are competing in London with dreams of bringing home the gold, a lot of them are more than willing to use their fame to help others back at home.
Paul Reickhoff, president and CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has an idea about a great, untapped American resource. He believes national service models based on AmeriCorps to harness and leverage the skills of military veterans and can “help people think about us as the cavalry, not as a problem.
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.
Nearly half of Ohio’s school children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and many of these children do not have access to adequate nutrition during the summer months. This lack of access to adequate nutrition has been linked to poorer academic performance, which can easily perpetuate the vicious cycle of poverty.
Sarah had been living with HIV for 10 years when she discontinued her treatment. After witnessing a murder in her neighborhood, she was afraid to leave her house for care. She was isolated, suffering from post-traumatic stress, and had to cope without HIV treatment for more than three years.
It seems improbable in a country where 90 million of its citizens are battling obesity that 49 million are also having food security issues, however, that’s the reality in the United States today. And more than 16 million of our most-vulnerable residents -- America’s children --are paying the price.
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 opportunity for a diverse group of college kids to join together and work toward a single purpose is something that should not be taken for granted. Imagine a world in which this generation -- from both religious and nonreligious backgrounds -- comes together to serve their communities.
First Lady Michelle Obama is leading the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games and she's calling on families around the country to support Team USA, not just by cheering on our athletes, but by getting active in their own communities.
Earlier this summer, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the graduation of 22 Green City Force AmeriCorps members in New York City. Green City Force recruits young adults, ages 18-24, who are currently unemployed or underemployed high school graduates or GED-holders from low-income neighborhoods.
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.
Americans produce more food, eat more of it (check out our obesity rates), and waste more by sending it to landfills. Finding healthy, affordable food should not be a problem in the United States. But it is.
Travis is a single father of two from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since 2008, Travis had bounced between part-time and temporary jobs. His wages had peaked at around $10 per hour, though he needed at least $12-$14 an hour to support his family. With limited interviewing and workforce experience, he didn't think he would ever find full-time work – let alone have a career.
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.
Summer learning loss is a growing problem for American children but there is a simple solution. Research shows that reading just five books during the summer can help kids stay on the path to academic success during the next school year.
Josh, 45, was one of the millions of Americans suffering from a mental illness, but he was not receiving treatment. He was unemployed and living in a halfway house, and he could hardly find the motivation to do the dishes or leave his room.
Imagine what would happen if the marketing experts behind your favorite Super Bowl ad developed a campaign to help a nonprofit recruit volunteers or raise awareness of an important national issue. Or if the engineers at a leading technology company volunteered as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) tutors at a local school.
In October 2003, 14-year-old Madison Woytovich was having her hair braided by her mother, Betsy, when large chunks of Madison’s hair began falling out. During the next seven weeks, 75 percent of her hair disappeared.
Stephen Packard, 24, could have taken his degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut and found a comfortable desk job. Instead, he opted for a more adventurous path when he joined AmeriCorps NCCC. Never did he imagine he'd one day be working on the front lines of Colorado's biggest wildfire in history, sleeping just feet from the flames.
The school year is over, but that's not an excuse to let your child's brain and body take the summer off. Inspired by the First Lady's Let's Move initiative, the Corporation for National and Community Service's Let's Read. Let's Move. calls on all Americans to combat summer reading loss and childhood obesity through service this summer.
It's the time of year when parents worry about summer learning loss and getting the kids off the couch. Good news! There is a fun and free way to exercise a child's mind and body – your neighborhood playground.
As we celebrate the 4th of July, we celebrate our patriotism and the millions who have shown their love of country by wearing the uniform. There are a few Veterans among us -- 16,000 so far -- who came home and volunteered for a second time and served their communities though AmeriCorps.
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.
Recent wildfires have threatened communities across Colorado and the Southwest and national service has been working day and night to help put out the flames and support survivors.
Nursing homes can be scary places for the residents as they yearn for companionship in a situation that doesn’t bring frequent visitors. Knowing those often-unfilled needs of the elderly led Rachel Doyle to turn her focus to improving this situation.
John Urbigkit has service in his blood. He has volunteered as an EMT medic, Boy Scout leader and even earned a Purple Heart for his service in the Korean War. But it is his role as a Senior Corps volunteer with the Southeast Wyoming Foster Grandparent Program that earned this community hero a distinguished honor that brought him to Washington, DC.
America's children continue to struggle with summer learning loss and childhood obesity. As part of the effort to battle this problem, the Corporation for National and Community Service continues our Let's Read. Let's Move. initiative for the summer of 2012.

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