Images of this Past Year

Throughout this past year, I watched as an amazing group of individuals become leaders, unknown people become friends and then family, teams rose up against challenges, and a hundred paths converged within the chaos of the inaugural year of AmeriCorps NCCC – FEMA Corps.  Through it all, I carried my camera with me, hoping to capture the memories and images of this year.  The following is a photographic reflection of my time as a Team Leader with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps – FEMA Corps, Class XIX based out of Vicksburg, MS.

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It all started peacefully as Team Leaders (TLs) arrived and started to discover that we had no clue at what this year held for us.  Like the calm before the storm, we enjoyed the time together and getting to know one another.

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We weren’t the most graceful group of individuals, but we made it through by relying on one another.

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As Corps Members (CMs) arrived on campus, there was a lot of paperwork and unknown, followed by more paperwork and even more questions.  We remained positive, even as Hurricane Isaac bared down on us and plunged us into darkness for several days.  It was our first taste of a life in emergency management.

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While many people seemed to panic when faced with adversity, the CMs (and TLs) looked towards one another for strength, calm and presence of mind.  These individuals were the rocks that we built this program on.

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As our teams came together, we learned how to work with one another and support each other, physically and emotionally.  And when it seemed like we were going to fall, we knew that there were going to be people there to catch us.

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We took a leap into the unknown, entering into a brand new program as trailblazers, guinea pigs, and test pilots.

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Where a majority of the CMs and TLs embraced the unknown, several people panicked.  After some screaming and laughing, we all got down to business.

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We served communities through our daily work schedules and national days of service.

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I helped to lead my team through the chaos and we helped to lead the charge into responding to Super Storm Sandy.

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It wasn’t always easy, being outnumbered.

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But we answered the questions that we could and I am proud of my team for constantly seeking direction and answers, always eager to learn and serve.

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We remained an integral part of Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) 9 in Rockaway Park in New York from its first couple days of service until it eventually shut down in early December.

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It wasn’t always easy, as we found ourselves leaving out housing, the SS Empire State and the SS Wright, as the sun was rising and often found ourselves returning long after the sun set.

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After returning to NYC, we served alongside the staff of DRC 41 in Staten Island, reviewing cases and assisting applicants and survivors of the storm.

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It wasn’t always paperwork as we found opportunities to serve the communities that we lived and worked in.

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We remained positive and dedicated to service, even when it seemed like the weight of the world was against us.

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Faced with adversity, we found ways to persevere and accepted the challenge.

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We stood tall and accepted the trials, unafraid because we knew we were not alone.

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We came out of this year stronger, more determined, and surrounded by a network of individuals who will support us for the remainder of our lives.

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As our paths now diverge from this experience together, I am certain that we will remain a family, created under the chaos that was this first year of an amazing program, under the guidance of some amazing people.

I cannot thank my fellow TLs for supporting me so much this year.  My team that is now my second family.  The staff of the Southern Region Campus and CNCS for providing us this opportunity to serve.

It was a year to remember, and I doubt any of us will forget it any time soon.

God Bless and PEACE

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