Written by Ashanti Muhammad, Ocean 4, AmeriCorps NCCC (FEMA CORPS)
My name is Ashanti Muhammad and I am the Media Representative for Ocean 4! I have been fortunate enough to be placed on a team of 7 where every personality compliments the next, and we’re all eager to serve our community. Before we dive right in to my team’s goals and achievements, I have received help from my team members to educate you on the program that we’re in through a Q&A session…
What exactly is AmeriCorps NCCC (FEMA CORPS)?
Taylor Chakales: AmeriCorps NCCC is a 10-month, team-based, residential service program for 18-24 year olds. NCCC stands for the National Civilian Community Corps which is a subset of AmeriCorps that has many branches of programs. This year we are working with FEMA Corps (Federal Emergency Management Agency). We have been fortunate enough to travel the country and help the nation through different natural disasters that families go through.
I hear that the team specializes in logistics; what does that consist of?
Miller Figueroa: Logistics consists of supply management. Our job is to keep track of supplies that FEMA distributes to other disaster areas. Whether that be plastic sheeting or other commodities such as water bottles, food, blankets and other necessities to help ease the transition for a survivor after a disaster.
Is this a paid service year? Or is it more like volunteer work?
Kayla McCabe: We get paid a living stipend that can be used for personal items. However, AmeriCorps pays for our food, housing and uniform wear that is needed to survive the year. Personally, I am not here just to receive a paycheck, as I believe everyone on my team is more concerned about supporting the survivors this year.
We initially started the program and landed on home base in Vicksburg, Mississippi where we were trained on various courses that prepared us for each round that we embarked on. The year is composed of three different service rounds. Refer to the table outline for a better representation:
|ROUND 1||ROUND 2||ROUND 3|
|Ft. Worth , Texas||Albany, NY||Undetermined|
|DISTRIBUTION CENTER||AMERICAN RED CROSS||//|
During our time at the Distribution Center we assisted FEMA staff with receiving tools and supplies from Puerto Rico. We re-stocked and shelved 2,568,384 pounds of plastic sheeting and sent out 86 trailers of food and 20 trailers of water to Hawaii, Puerto Rico and donation centers.
We finished our project on June 4 and headed home to Vicksburg, Mississippi for a week of transition and training.
Being away from friends for 2 months was at times, hard. You get so used to seeing everyone every day for a little over a month and then one day, they’re not there and you see the same faces all the time.
It took us approximately three days to get to Albany from Vicksburg averaging about 20 hours in total for the trip. It was exhausting and trying, but we successfully made it through and are more than excited about serving with the American Red Cross.
What do you and your team hope to achieve?
Jordan Hayes: We all want to help as many people as we can. First round we weren’t able to interact with survivors first hand, but we received the opportunity to help those at the Distribution center. I think that’s why we’re so excited to be working with the American Red Cross because we will finally receive that chance to work with the public. We’re all passionate and ready to do amazing work! Personally speaking I want to gain as much experience as possible in Emergency Management and all that it encompasses.
What has been your favorite part of the year?
Sightseeing in different communities
Working with Beautiful Feet Ministries and helping the homeless
Travelling and being able to explore different cultures
Receiving forklift certifications and completing our project during Round 1
Where will you go next after Albany?
Ashanti Muhammad: This program is very spontaneous so we more than likely won’t know of our next destination until a week before we depart from Albany. However, no matter where we go we are always excited about exploring a new community and meeting those who call it home. We’re definitely nowhere close ready to leave Albany, so for now, we will be focusing on just how we can help fulfill the American Red Cross mission.