What a year. This has been one of the most formative years of my life; absolutely one of the hardest, and arguably one of the best. I had never been to New Orleans before I moved here but I intuitively knew that the two of us would get along very well. I was right.
I have experienced the underbelly of the city through the Red Cross – the poverty, the disenfranchised, the destruction, the crime, the hopelessness – but I have also been fortunate to experience the unique and beautiful moments through my personal life that make New Orleans the greatest city in the world – the people, the music, the southern hospitality, the food, and above all, the spirit. What New Orleans lacks in infrastructure it makes up for in community and heart. I will never know a city whose inhabitants love it so dearly and for good reason.
Working for this organization has reaffirmed my passion for making a valuable contribution to my community. I will always dedicate my life to improving the lives of others through empowerment. The universe is not always fair, disaster can strike at any time, and poverty and discrimination are systemic; these are facts. If I can improve even one person’s life, my job is worth it. I have felt the impact I’ve made here through relationships with my clients. Nothing is more rewarding and inspiring than watching someone make a full recovery after a disaster. I am honored to be a part of their recovery process through the fiscal power of the Red Cross and the support of this amazing crew.
The Red Cross has pushed me to my personal and professional limits and taught me about balance: balancing my time, my money, my professionalism, my compassion fatigue. It taught me that it is not just important but rather imperative that you surround yourself with a worthy team if you want any operation to be successful.
A special thank you goes to Carolanne Fernandez, Melanie Cole, Dalton Lasnier, Sarah Smaldone, Yolanda Greenup, and the interns and volunteers that made this year worth it. You kept me sane and taught me what it means to be part of a team. You are the people that I would absolutely want on my side were my house to burn down or a hurricane to sweep it away. We have taken care of each other every step of the way and I will always cherish our year together.
I love you all so much and have the most special place in my heart for you. Thank you for an amazing year.
A lot has happened over the past 11 months. I moved to a city I had never been to before and where I didn’t know anybody. When I first arrived in New Orleans I really had no idea what to expect. The past 11 months have had their many challenges but have also been rewarding. For me, the most rewarding part of the job has been DAT. Being out in the field and responding to fires isn’t always easy but knowing that I’m helping those who need it the most helped me get through the long hours.
Over the course of my AmeriCorps term, I learned that I want continue helping people and that it’s important to give back to your community. Beginning in September I am going to be doing another AmeriCorps term in Lincoln City, Oregon. I am going to be disaster preparedness with the Lincoln City Office of Emergency Management. I am really looking forward to this because I am going to be going out into the community and giving disaster preparedness presentation about local hazards. Lincoln City is located on the Oregon coast so the local hazards are earthquakes and tsunamis. It’s also about an hour away from my hometown of Salem. I am definitely going to miss New Orleans- it’s an amazing city but I am looking forward to returning to the great Pacific Northwest.
Friday is my last day of AmeriCorps NPRC with the Red Cross. Almost 2 full years of AmeriCorps service is ending in 5 days. This chapter will end, and a new one will begin. I’ve been beyond blessed to be a part of this experience. AmeriCorps has taken me to Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, New York, Georgia, Texas, driving everywhere inbetween. I’ve seen destruction from mass river flooding, hurricanes, Superstorm Sandy, tornadoes, and fires.
I’ve met people from all over the country, all with the same passion as mine, incredible people with beautiful hearts and golden souls seeking to make our country and this world a better place. I’ve constantly dealt with heartache, sorrow, anger, hate, helplessness, but also love, compassion, appreciation, recovery, and happiness. I have felt all of these emotions, whether they were my own or among the countless others I’ve encountered and shared life with. I cannot begin to describe how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve learned. I have become a better person, I have appreciated life a little more, I have put myself aside for something bigger than myself, but I have also learned how important it is to take care of myself, to find time for little things, to do what scares me, to take lead and trust myself and others. I have been with people on their worst day, and I’ve had people by my side for mine.
I haven’t gone to college yet, and I’m hoping I can start that next year, but even though I haven’t had a formal education in 3 years, I still feel I’ve learned a lot more than what I could’ve in a book or a classroom. This world is full of pain, but also healing. Suffering, but also recovery. Hate, but also love. Dark, but also light. Death, but also life. I can’t even begin to imagine where to go from here. Stepping away from this will surely be a difficult transition, and finding what’s next will also be hard. I know I’m well-equipped, I know I’ll figure it out, and I know I’ll have help along the way and guidance from within.
Before this journey started, I learned about service, and what it was really all about. Choosing to love, loving others by doing what’s right and best for them, building influence, and being seen as a leader. Service is sacrifice. I’ve given up a lot, but when I look back on it, it doesn’t really feel like I gave up anything I couldn’t live without. By giving, I received more back than I ever could’ve asked for, and that has been the greatest reward. As it often is at this age, I’ve had the toughest year of my life. I’ve had to work harder than ever to keep myself afloat, to accept help from others, to believe in myself and what I was doing, to find strength in places I didn’t know existed. I have developed beyond anywhere I would’ve seen myself right now. If you told me when I graduated high school that 3 years later I would’ve done all this, I would’ve laughed at you. I would’ve told you I wasn’t capable of something like that, it would be too big and too scary, too far from home, too much responsibility, and that I wasn’t capable of something like that. I have proved myself so wrong.
It has been a trying, difficult, exhausting but fulfilling journey. There is no perfect way to summarize it. All I can say is from here on out, I will be more ready for whatever comes. Life will become more challenging, struggles will continue to push against me, situations will arise that I haven’t faced yet and don’t know how to handle… But by doing what I just did, I have proven that I can find a way through anything. Thank you to all who have been on this journey with me, who have believed in me and given me strength in love when I have needed it most. Thanks for helping me laugh when I couldn’t, cry when I needed to, push on when I didn’t know how, and believe in me when I wouldn’t. I miss my home so dearly, and it has been far too long since I’ve been able to relax and be with those I love more than anyone else.
Here’s to family, here’s to service, here’s to sacrifice, here’s to learning, here’s to traveling the country, here’s to friends, here’s to recovery, here’s to happiness, here’s to an unforgettable life experience of being more than I thought I could and doing more than I ever dreamed, here’s to my past, here’s to my future, here’s to love, here’s to carrying this commitment with me this year and beyond, and… here’s to AmeriCorps. Thank you for everything.
In April, I experience my first DR with the Red Cross. On April 27th there was a very large storm that hit that caused a bunch of damage. I spent most of the DR doing either damage assessment or outreach. The hours during that week were very long and involved multiple 12 hour days. On Monday, the day of the storm, we received calls from people requesting assistance. Tuesday was spent out in the field doing disaster assessment. Once we had a better idea about how bad the damage from the storm was and the areas that had the damage, we spent Wednesday and Thursday doing client casework. Being a part of the response was a good learning experience. I also spent time in a part of Louisiana that I had not spent much if any time in.
Last week we went up to St Francisville where we went on a tour of Myrtles Plantation. We met up with the Baton Rouge AmeriCorps team. Myrtles Plantation is supposedly haunted by a number of ghosts. While I didn’t see any ghosts when we were there, I still enjoyed our visit. We went on a tour of the house, which I found very interesting. One thing that struck me was how small the furniture in the house was. After we ate lunch at the restaurant at the plantation, we went to Cat Island to see the oldest cypress tree in the state of Louisiana. I thought the tree was really cool. It was also fun to do something outdoorsy.
As I Thought about my contribution to humanity, of course The American Red Cross is my choice .I left Dallas in 2010 to help my city in any way I can. After being home for a month or two I started to become a Red Cross volunteer, I enjoy everything about being a volunteer it’s an awesome opportunity to engage in helping people of all nationalities I love it. I even got the opportunity to work with the Americorps team, I wished everyday that I would be able to become apart of all the important jobs that they were doing ,so from that moment on I knew I wanted to be a REDCROSSER.I believe in my service that in each person I encounter will be touched with the love and caring of one team one Redcross.
Hello and happy Wednesday, loyal readers and new visitors!
We have some MAJOR news to share with you all today….
We have just received word that we are opening 2 ADDITIONAL NPRC positions, effective immediately! Details are below. If you are interested in applying, please contact our supervisor at Carolanne.Fernandez@RedCross.org ASAP!
LOCATIONS: 1 position in Monroe/Alexandria
1 position in New Orleans/Baton Rouge (location is up for discussion)
TERM: 11 months from start date (negotiable); 1,700 hour minimum
STARTING DATE: Preferably on/before November 11th so Member can participate in a national training in San Francisco later that week (expenses paid by NPRC)
RELOCATION EXPENSES: None
LIVING STIPEND: $14,500 plus $5,645 ed award (and interest on student loans paid)
INTERVIEW PROCESS: Intial 45min w/ Carolanne (starting immediately through next week), final with Director & 30min w/ Supervisor of site you’re interested in
HOUSING: Responsibility of Member, but we will assist you in finding it
We are really excited to have another member join our team!!!!!!