Coming to the End

In less than a week the members of the inaugural class AmeriCorps*NCCC – FEMA Corps, based out of Vicksburg, MS, will be back on campus for the final time.  In a months time, we will find ourselves scattered across the nation, our paths diverging from the road that brought us together all those months ago.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been asked multiple times if this experience has been worth it.  If I was glad to stick with it through the rough moments and the hardships.  If this was what I expected.  If I learned while serving with FEMA Corps.

I smile and find the politically correct answer to please the desires for polite conversation.  And sometimes, I cringe because I know in my heart that something doesn’t feel right.

This year has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life.  As another Team Leader from the Vinton, IA campus stated, there have been waves of emotions throughout the year, from extreme highs to the lowest of lows.  I have seem myself on the mountaintops, celebrating small victories before plunging into the darkest of days.

Was it what any of us expected?  No.  But we adapted to those changes and made the best of it and worked to change the system for the next class, those that will be following in our footsteps.

Has it been worth it?  We’ve seen changes happen in the past several months.  We’ve seen a glimpse of the future, where our suggestions have been taken into account.

In my heart, I know that every step of the journey is significant and worth whatever pain comes with it.

Am I glad that I have stuck with it?  Sometimes I ask myself this same question, but as I begin to reflect on the year, I see the hardships that we faced next to the significance of our work, as we served those in need following the destruction caused by Sandy.  I see the tear that were shed as we were yelled at, offered our shoulders to cry on, and the emotions that consumed us as we worked long hours and returned the next day to continue serving in the chaos.

I think there are better questions to ask, like “Were we, as an organization, ready for this?” or “Are we prepared to accept the challenge of continuing down this road?”  As this year comes to an end, we must begin looking to what comes next.

I don’t have the answers, but I do know that it isn’t going to be easy.  No road is easy in this life.

I’ve seen and experienced so much over these past ten months, from Team Leader Training, Corps Training Institute, Anniston, Region IV Office in Atlanta, responding to Hurricane Sandy, working in Rockaway Park and Staten Island, and, now, here at the Emergency Management Institute.  These experiences have shaped my year and I am glad to have had the chance to share them with those I have served alongside.

When people ask, I look back and smile, for they will never know how much we have changed throughout this experience.

Just some thoughts…

God Bless and PEACE

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