AmeriCorps St. Louis April-May 2015 e-Newsletter
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Tornado Response in Fairdale, IL

The Emergency Response Team deployed to DeKalb County on April 10th in response to an EF-4 tornado that affected parts of northern Illinois. Our team filled the need for volunteer and donations management, helping the local community handle the influx of people and goods pouring into the area. 
During our time in DeKalb County, we were able to register over 2,780 volunteers who contributed to over 17,320 hours in service to the Fairdale community. 

Stay Updated on ERT's Deployments!
The Power of Volunteers
 
"When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life...the greatest gift you can give is your time." - Rick Warren

Disaster by Rich Karp
Coming into this month I had very little experience with disaster response. I vaguely understood our role on disaster, but really had no context to place the VRC and volunteer coordination. I started off the month attending the SEMA conference in Branson, MO and was able to better understand our program's role through talking with Bruce, Sara, and various Missouri partnering organizations.

Then, two weeks into April we were called back from project early and the next morning we were packing out for Fairdale, IL to assist with volunteer coordination and donations management. After the first day we had a VRC set up and I was able to see the power coordinating volunteers can have. Though everyone wanted to go in the field right away, those specific opportunities weren't available because the community was still zoned off. Instead of being frustrated and turning away, they willingly stacked and sorted trailers upon trailers of donations that poured into the town. Their commitment and hard work led to the opening of a donations "store" where survivors could come and "shop" for the items they needed in the days following the tornado. That store will continue to remain open, stocked with donations, and staffed by volunteers until those survivors don't need them anymore. 

It was a humbling experience to be able to serve that community. Not only were the volunteers inspiring, working with the homeowners in the field was incredibly moving. They all were so grateful to have us there and thanked us for "helping to bring organization to an otherwise chaotic situation".
Congratulations to the 2015 Service Award Recipients
The Emergency Response Team had 9 of our current and former Members recognized on May 7th at the Missouri Community Service Commission Awards Banquet! 

Congratulations to 4th Year Fellow, Sara Ann Levine, for receiving the Missouri State Service Award! 
 
"Sara is currently serving her 4th year on the Emergency Response Team. Throughout her 4 years, she has been fully dedicated to this program, her teammates, and the communities in which she serves. She possesses a strength of character and determination that helps bring positive changes to our program, which have improved our stewardships and the way in which we serve communities."

Current 3rd Year Fellow, Chelsea Catalano, 2nd Years Zoe Jennings and Sean Kerr, and 1st Year Michael Rood all received the Presidential Lifetime Service Award for serving over 4,000 hours over the course of a lifetime. All of these Members have served 3 or more AmeriCorps terms with different AmeriCorps programs across the country. 

Former Members, Kelly Barber, Daniel Burch, Austin Menning, and Dalton Olson (all Years 19-20) were recognized as recipients of the Presidential Lifetime Service Award as well, though they were unable to be present at the ceremony. 
 
Thank you so much for all of your service!
Member Reflections
When People Stop to Talk
by Carolyn Stephen


This last week my team was spraying for the pesky invasive Spotted Knapweed on a couple of state highways. Passing cars are not uncommon, and every so often someone will stop to ask what we are spraying for. One couple in particular stood out to me. We first met J- (I just remember her name started with a J), the wife. She pulled her SUV over to the side of the road, hopped out of her car, and eagerly crossed the road. When we told her we were spraying for Spotted Knapweed, she was absolutely elated. I don't think I have ever seen anyone quite so grateful for the service we do. She told us how she and her husband had been fighting Spotted Knapweed for years now on their property, and how happy she was to see MDC and MODOT working to eliminate the invasive plant. 
Learn about Carrie's visit!
Morning Commute
by Michael Rood

Hop out of the truck. Shake off the morning dreariness. Pack my bag. Toss on some chaps, throw a saw over my shoulder, and start walking. One foot after the other. Each one leading to the work site a mile and a half away on top of Buford Mountain. Having long legs offers its advantages. A steady pace ensures I pull away from my teammates. After 10 minutes of hiking I am alone, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the woods. 

Learn where Mike's commute takes him!

Alumni News
BIG Thank You to alums Jonathan Russell, Sarah Steinback, and Erin Rohan for joining our team in Northern Illinois to assist with our disaster response!
*If you are an alumni with big news, let us know! We want to keep your AmeriCorps family updated.  If you have any announcements, please email them to sara@americorps-stl.org
Please consider making a financial donation to AmeriCorps St. Louis to ensure our Emergency Response Team is able to continue responding. Every dollar you give means that our team is able to be out there, meeting the needs of people whose lives have been turned upside down. 
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