In the aftermath of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, last week, we have witnessed remarkable courage and compassion.
From the first responders who pulled survivors from the rubble, to the teachers who shielded their students, to the residents who sheltered their neighbors, Oklahomans have displayed extraordinary strength and resilience.
Governor Mary Fallin has called it the “Oklahoma Standard” – the spirit of neighbor helping neighbor that shined after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and remains strong today.
We have also seen something present after every crisis: the generous, hopeful spirit of Americans coming from every corner of the country to help.
Trained staff and volunteers from faith-based groups, the American Red Cross, and other voluntary organizations rushed in to provide shelter, food, and relief. Working in coordination with these groups, FEMA, and state and local authorities, the Corporation for National and Community Service immediately deployed AmeriCorps teams to assist.
The first team on the scene, AmeriCorps St. Louis, is a veteran of many disasters, having led volunteer efforts after numerous hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes over the past 19 years. They arrived in Moore last Tuesday, exactly two years after a similar tornado cut a devastating path through the town of Joplin.
One essential component of Joplin’s swift recovery was the existence of a strong and well-managed infrastructure to handle the massive influx of volunteers who came to help. AmeriCorps led this large-scale operation to ensure volunteers were trained, tracked, and deployed safely.
On the one-year anniversary of the Joplin tornado, we talked to community leaders and local officials about AmeriCorps’ role in the recovery. Here is what they said:
In the first year after the tornado, 350 AmeriCorps members coordinated more than 75,000 volunteers to assist more than 2,200 Joplin households. AmeriCorps is still active in Joplin today, helping homeowners rebuild and repair their homes.
Will Burks, who is leading the AmeriCorps St. Louis team in Moore, was also part of the first AmeriCorps team to arrive in Joplin. He has seen the remarkable progress of the town since then, telling the St. Louis Dispatch, “The amount of recovery that can take place, if the community wants it, is amazing.”
Oklahomans, strong in character and determined to rebuild, will come back stronger. As they do, national service will be at their side.
During AmeriCorps Week, many officials will step forward to recognize the contributions our members are making in their communities and states from coast to coast. We’ve collected a few highlights from the leaders of our statehouses across the nation.
Lt. Brandon Williams, part-time soldier and full-time AmeriCorps member, currently serves in Baltimore, MD, with one of Catholic Charities’ member programs, Project SERVE. Each day, Lt. Williams arrives at Our Daily Bread, Catholic Charities’ hot meal center, and teaches new volunteers the significance of feeding those who cannot afford to feed themselves. Equally importantly, he teaches his volunteers to respect each man and woman that comes through the door. The time the hungry spend in the safety and warmth of Our Daily Bread’s walls may be the only time throughout the day they are treated with respect at all.
Civic leaders, community groups, and elected officials joined the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today for a dedication of the new AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) Atlantic Region Campus in the former Sacred Heart of Mary School of Baltimore, MD.
“Where do you find the time?” is a question that could be posed to many parents, but the 2012 Volunteering and Civic Life in America (VCLA) report shows that many in this group are carving space in their busy schedules to help others in their communities. Allison Moore, a military spouse and mother of three young children in Missouri, is a prime example.
The new Volunteering and Civic Life in America report gives researchers at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) a chance to examine some of the trends in these two important areas of life in these United States. This data from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 51 cities provides a snapshot of how Americans are coming together to improve our communities and who is leading the way.
When asked how to best honor her husband, Coretta Scott King replied, "The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others." As the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service approaches on Jan. 21, 2013, teachers and students across the country are exploring the idea of service to others through an online curriculum created by the Corporation for National and Community Service and Scholastic.
The latest estimates show that Americans have more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt and in 2011 the average borrower owed $23,300. What if there was a way for students to reduce their college costs while gaining some valuable experience at the same time? Look no further.
What can YOU do? It’s such an interesting question because it’s wide open to interpretation. But I’ve found that most people, especially adults, tend to answer in the context of employment or occupation. And each time they do, it reaffirms my basic belief in the intrinsic value of work.
A passion for learning and service means one rotation was not enough for AmeriCorps member Rebbecca Bakre. So, after a stint with Civic Works, the 24-year-old, University of Maryland graduate joined Playworks Baltimore AmeriCorps while she pursues her master’s in public administration.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Rising health care costs continue to hit extra hard for people with chronic illnesses who are uninsured or living on fixed incomes. Philadelphia Health Corps AmeriCorps members serve in the city's District Health Centers to help these patients gain access to medications through drug company prescription assistance programs.
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 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.
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.
May is a time of graduations, fresh spring air and new beginnings. But for many, graduation from high school or college is far from a reality, and opportunities for a fresh start are out of reach. At least one in six young people ages 16-24 are disconnected from school and work – the two pathways that provide the greatest hope for a bright and productive future. Yet, these young people dream of building careers and making important contributions to our communities. That's why we see them as “Opportunity Youth.”
3 Billion. That's the number of hours, on average, contributed by Americans aged 55 and older in service between 2008 and 2010. Some of these individuals serve with Senior Corps programs like RSVP while others may give back through local faith-based or community organizations, but all provide valuable human capital which communities in need are able to depend on.
Youth aren't waiting for the call to serve --they are ready to make their mark today. This last weekend, young people around the world celebrated Global Youth Service Day in 100 countries on six continents as children, teens, and young adults demonstrated why they are the most service-oriented generations ever.
Last year, 64.3 million Americans gave their time in service. These volunteers spent hours in schools and shelters, hospitals and hotlines, and faith-based and community-groups. They are the everyday heroes who show up day in, day out and make a difference for millions of women and men around the world.
These words sit at the heart of my father's tireless efforts to advocate for change. He believed that protection from the hazards of pesticides; fair wages and improved working conditions were not achievable if not founded upon an improvement in the overall well-being of the community.
I began my AmeriCorps journey when I was recruited into the program by the Community Action Agency in Annapolis, MD. My first job was to create a mentoring system for families of Head Start students. The next year, I continued serving in the program by training others in mentoring as a regional coordinator, and I returned for a third year with AmeriCorps to lead the program as a state coordinator with Volunteer Maryland.
Communities have a long history of coming together to revitalize and transform their areas. From the settlement houses of the late 19th century to the 1960s War on Poverty, communities have been collaborating for centuries to improve their surroundings.
New Year's resolutions are a great way to check in with ourselves and reflect on our priorities. Resolving to eat healthy, exercise more, or spend more time with our loved ones can all be a part of using the New Year as an opportunity to become better versions of ourselves.
This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to deliver hundreds of toys that White House staff donated to Toys for Tots, an annual holiday toy drive organized by the Marines. She thanked volunteers and military families for their hard work and dedication to the 60-year old program.