Again, its been a while since I’ve had the time to update this blog and, again, I feel awful. To make up for it, I have a bunch of pictures and an update of what we have done and are doing here with FEMA Corps Southern Region.
First, on Thursday we officially finished Corps Training Institute (CTI) as we celebrated our induction ceremony. It was a day that started with a Leadership Breakfast with several amazing individuals to include Richard Soreno, Deputy Director of FEMA and the inspiration for FEMA Corps, Wendy Spensor, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Kate Raftery, Director of AmeriCorps*NCCC and numerous Corps Members (CMs) that each have an amazing story of their own. From there we had an All Corps Photo, a Press Conference (I stood in the back and was named in one of the speeches), the Induction Ceremony and Reception, and finally the FEMA Think Tank discussion on Youth in Disaster Response.
But there was a whole journey to get to that amazing day that started several weeks ago. To help describe the awesomeness of it all, I have uploaded the following images:
Above at the Team Leaders of the Ocean Unit, taken at the Ropes Course we had the privilege of going through on our way down to Baton Rouge.
The first several weeks of CTI was filled with lots of classroom trainings, paperwork, forms, and not a lot of sleep. Many of the CMs thrived in this time and have already began to grow as individuals and leaders.
The CMs went through training under the watchful eyes of their TLs (we are like Hawks, we see everything).
After team reveal, Hurricane Isaac, and several stressful days without power, we received the opportunity to head up to Camp Lake Stephens in Oxford, MS for several days where we conducted Amerilympics, spent a day working at the camp (I got to run a chainsaw all morning), and going through the Ole Miss Ropes Course.
Above is an image of Vesprye Hill at Camp Lake Stephens, a camp run and owned by the United Methodist Church. It is a beautiful facility that reminds me of my days at camp with Young Life.
Above is an image of one of the Low Ropes elements, where we swung in and tried landing in the hoops. Some of us were better at it than others. Though, we did figure out how to help and support one another as a team through the various activities.
Some of us were not all to excited about some of the High Ropes elements that we had the opportunity to go through in the afternoon…
… though it was an adventure to learn how to fly like a flying squirrel and jump off the top of a telephone pole.
Speaking of telephone poles, there I am at the top, ready to make the leap. I took no time getting up there because I knew as soon as I stopped (like here) I would freeze and start thinking about how crazy this thing I was doing was. I only hesitated for a couple of seconds before making the leap out towards the bar. Unfortunately, I was unable to grab the bar, but I did jam my fingers into it.
(side note: It was at the Ropes Course that I realized I had contacted poison ivy the day before while running a chainsaw at camp. My entire lower right leg was covered in it and about lunch time, it started weeping and I made the decision to go to the ER. After driving the 4 hours back to campus, not including the 2 hour wait for food at McAlisters Cafe, a fellow TL took me to the ER to receive medical attention. I am doing much better now, it is all gone except for some scars.)
On 9.11 we participated in the 9/11 National Day of Remembrance and Service in honor of all the first responders who put their lives on the line each and every day. My team, Ocean 7, spent the day at Vicksburg Fire Station 9 painting the fire bay and helping the Vicksburg Police burn sensitive documents (old case files, etc dating back into the 1970s and 80s).
At the end of the day, we received the opportunity to climb to the top of the Fire Training Center and take our first team photo on the roof of the 7 story structure (an old feed mill).
I am honored to serve beside these 9 young adults. They have the courage and confidence to change the world, one individual at a time.
After Induction, we packed our bags and are now beginning training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, AL. Here we will recieve training in our FEMA Specialist Roles (Ocean 7 will be trained as Individual Assistance – Applicant Services Program Specialists) as well as have an overview of FEMAs role in disaster response.
The journey has just begun and I am excited to take the next steps closer to being able to serve.
God Bless and PEACE