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Saturday, January 26, 2013

From Ashes to Action

     The origin of an event or a decision can usually be traced to one or a small handful of events.  My decision to join AmeriCorps and serve with FemaCorps began in December of 2011.  In that month I decided to leave Union University to attend one of the colleges in my home town (UCCS).  While admittedly there is no strong correlation between college choice and doing ten months of community service through a national program there is a connection.  While attending Union University I was determined to finish in four years (and I even hoped to finish in three years-even though it was unlikely).  When I decided to attend UCCS, I became more open to attending school for four years.  As things went, I changed majors from history to trying to become a high school history teacher.  My four year plan became five.....so why not join FemaCorps and make it six? Changing schools and majors made me open to taking a non-traditional college path, but it was not the biggest element in my deciding to apply to FemaCorps.
     The biggest single event which pushed me to join FemaCorps began on June 23, 2012.  Saturday the 23rd began as a laid back day.  I had the day off of work and planned to relax at home, and possibly go with my brother Bobert to donate blood.  It turned out the local hospital's blood bank was no longer open (how disappointing who doesn't love to give blood?), so it turned into a lazy day.  I ate lunch at around noon, and then decided to relax (reading possible, I don't remember).  Bobert decided on a bowl of macaroni for lunch, but it was disrupted by a sudden, semi-frantic call.  My parents-who were out of town at the time-had received a call that there was a forest fire by near our house.  My mom called my brother to ask if he saw fire or smoke, he promptly looked out the front door, and assured her there was no fire.  He went into the kitchen to check on his macaroni only to find that a huge plume of smoke had formed.  He quickly called mom and told her that there was a fire.  As 100ft. flames peeked over the mountain which is just across the highway.  Lunch was obviously put on hold, and we frantically tried to gather all of our precious and irreplaceable items such as family photos.  We were evacuated for a total of 8 days- but everything-minus a few plants, a pitcher of tea, and the unfortunate macaroni was safe.  Unfortunately not everyone was so lucky.  For the first several days the Fire Fighters did a miraculous job keeping ALL property safe.  Then on Tuesday June 26 Colorado Springs experienced the perfect storm.  Record breaking temperatures and 60+ miler per hour winds caused the fire to come into town.  The fire fighters did a great job and saved many houses, but 346 were lost.
      While evacuated, we learned many lessons.  The community really came together and helped out anyone in need.  Free food, lodging, and events were available to evacuees.  Although I personally only took advantage of some free clothing from the Good Will (crazy how proper cloth packing slips your mind- it was amazing to not have to wear the same clothes for 8 days straight), one could not help but being extremely grateful for all of the support.  I had no training, so could not do a great deal of aiding the disaster victims.  I briefly looked into joining the red cross- school wouldn't give me the time commitment I needed to get trained- as well as other organizations   Eventually I found FemaCorps, and decided to apply. Now six months later, here I am. I have less than a month until I head off to Sacramento, CA in order to help and serve those affected by disaster as well as do additional work with Fema. I look forward to being able to learn a lot as well as help as many people as possible. I will try to keep everyone updated as often as possible
 P.S. Below is a link to pictures of the Waldo Canyon Fire in case you want to see what life in June was like, and how big the fire actually was.
Waldo Canyon Fire Pictures

Disclaimer

Although in this blog I will be mostly writing about my time with Americorps and specifically femacorps other subjects may be addressed.  This is NOT an official AmeriCorps of Fema/FemaCorps blog.  It is a personal blog written by me, and I am solely responsible for all of the content on this blog.  The views and opinions stated are my own and may not reflect the views and opinions of AmeriCorps, Femacorps, Fema, or their parent agencies, associates, or other organizations or partners.