This is AmeriCorps Week (March 7-11). AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country.
This is AmeriCorps Week (March 7-11). AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. AmeriCorps programs do more than move communities forward; they serve their members by creating jobs and providing pathways to opportunity for young people entering the workforce. AmeriCorps places thousands of young adults into intensive service positions where they learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop an appreciation for citizenship. Governor Nixon recently led a session at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, DC focused on “preparing states to respond to the next storm”. An important component in preparation and response to disasters and emergencies must always include an understanding of the important role that national service programs and members, along with state programs have in any response to disasters like the Joplin tornado and recent floods in our state. Over the years members of the National Service community (AmeriCorps, VISTA, Senior Corps, and the National Civilian Conservation Corps- NCCC) have been key responders to national and local disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the Joplin tornado, and the recent flooding in our state. Background • AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers in every state are a valuable resource before, during, and after a storm or other disaster. Missouri residents know first-hand the impact these dedicated national service members can make. • Since the communities across Missouri were devastated by floods earlier this year, more than 140 AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team (A-DRT) members and staff have deployed in our state. These AmeriCorps members came from around the country, from states as far away as California and Washington and from the Hoopa Nation Tribal Civilian Conservation Corps. Even through the end of February, 58 members and staff are still serving Missouri communities. These AmeriCorps members are coordinating volunteers, managing homeowner work orders, and completing emergency home repairs. • When Joplin was struck by a devastating EF5 tornado, more than 350 AmeriCorps members from seven states came to Joplin, providing vital services and coordinating more than 75,000 volunteers who were essential to the recovery of the city. AmeriCorps members supported missing person inquiries, removed tons of debris, provided homeowner assistance and casework, operated donation and distribution warehouses, coordinated donations, and in managing the large-scale volunteer operation of over 75,000 volunteers coordinated more than 500,000 hours of disaster assistance to more than 2,200 Joplin households. The response by AmeriCorps members and programs to the Missouri floods has been remarkable and one which will serve as a model for preparation for future events on a state and national level. Much like the Joplin tornado response, the flood response achieved an optimal level of coordination and use of resources from advanced planning and preparation, using a more refined model which took into account what was learned from Joplin. Early in the flood event AmeriCorps Members and local volunteers initiated sand bagging and property protection. State and Federal agencies engaged AmeriCorps St. Louis to stage and plan for the response. Out of this early engagement, a coordinated effort and response was initiated that led to an Incident Action Plan which included all the necessary agencies such as, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Corporation for National and Community Service Disaster Services Unit, the Missouri Community Service Commission, the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disasters (VOAD) members, Faith Based Agencies, Emergency Managers, other State Agencies, AmeriCorps National A-DRT’s, Missouri National Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Missouri Highway Patrol, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Natural Resources. All of these collaborating agencies operated from a command center set up at the Wyman Center in Eureka, Mo. To date this coordinated effort has resulted in the following accomplishments. • Number of AmeriCorps Members that have served-140 • Number of Member hours- 28,489 • Number of AmeriCorps Staff that have served- 21 • Number of staff hours- 4,418 • Number of volunteers hours- over 30,000 hours • Number of homes individually assisted- 580 • Number of cases logged and tracked- 1,350 • Mucked and gutted homes- over 275 homes with more than 4,295 cubic yards of household debris • Establishment of Seven Multi Agency Resource Centers (MARC’s) for citizens seeking assistance This flood recovery response has truly been remarkable and that outcome would not have been possible were it not for the collaboration and contributions of all of the agencies involved serving together with the deployed AmeriCorps programs and Members. AmeriCorps St. Louis Safety Service Corps is one of the oldest AmeriCorps Programs in our country and a true star in the area of disaster response and recovery. They are one of 16 AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams ( A-DRT) in the United States and they are a deployable resource to Missouri and the nation. They along with members of the Washington Conservation Corps (WCCC), National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa (CCMI), Hoopa Tribal Civilian Community Corps (TCCC) provided more than 100 AmeriCorps members for the initial response and recovery. Our state of Missouri and our nation are indeed fortunate to have had their services. Last year, the CNCS Disaster Services Unit (DSU) hosted 40 people from across the United States and nation. They along with members of the Washington Conservation Corps (WCCC), National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa (CCMI) , Hoopa Tribal Civilian Community Corps (TCCC) provided more than 100 AmeriCorps members for the initial response and recovery. Our state of Missouri and our nation are indeed fortunate to have had their services. Last year, the CNCS Disaster Services Unit (DSU) hosted 40 people from across the United States and our Missouri Community Service Commission was among those invited to attend a Disaster Services Commission Convening. The 5 day program addressed how to make our communities more resilient to disasters and how to prepare our AmeriCorps programs for disaster response. The principles and action plans discussed during those sessions were put into place with our Missouri flood recovery response. We believe that this is one of the first times that all those principles have been fully implemented in Missouri and the results speak for themselves. As we say in AmeriCorps, “Getting Things Done - through direct and demonstrable service that helps solve community problems”. This has been a model response of collaborative effort and everyone involved shares a deep sense of service and accomplishment. Beyond disaster response services, National Service has a direct impact on Missouri communities through initiatives in education, economic opportunity, creating healthy futures, supporting our veterans and their families, and environmental stewardship. National Service and the AmeriCorps State members make a difference. Sincerely, John Albright, Sunrise Beach Vice Chair, Missouri Community Service Commission