Jun 6, 2013 5:13 PM by MELISSA CANONE
WASHINGTON, D.C. - After completing 10 months of service to disaster survivors around the country, the nation's first class of FEMA Corps members will be honored at graduation ceremonies in Vicksburg, Miss., and Vinton, Iowa this month.
FEMA Corps is an innovative partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to enhance the nation's disaster response and recovery capacity while expanding career opportunities for young people.
Established as a new unit within the existing AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), FEMA Corps engages young adults ages 18 to 24 to provide 10 months of full-time service on disaster response and recovery projects. More than 300 members of the inaugural FEMA Corps class will graduate at ceremonies in Vicksburg on June 6 and Vinton on June 13.
"These FEMA Corps members have made a real difference in FEMA's disaster response and recovery efforts" said Richard Serino, FEMA Deputy Administrator. "They have brought incredible energy and enthusiasm for community service, directly impacting the lives of disaster survivors and paving a path for future FEMA Corps teams."
"I am so proud of the work AmeriCorps members have done as part of FEMA Corps and the positive impact they have had for disaster survivors," said Wendy Spencer, CNCS CEO. "Through their selfless service, they have helped thousands of survivors move forward with their lives and blazed the trail for future FEMA Corps teams to make an even greater impact."
FEMA Corps teams from the two campuses were integral in the response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Sandy. Teams were on the ground in New York and New Jersey in the first few days following the hurricane and provided direct assistance to disaster survivors by working at Disaster Recovery Centers and going door-to-door in impacted neighborhoods providing disaster information. FEMA Corps also provided assistance in 20 other states including Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Florida during their 10 month assignment.
The joint partnership between FEMA and CNCS is a five-year program that that will engage thousands of FEMA Corps members in all aspects of emergency management by responding to disasters across the country. Their service has contributed to delivering disaster assistance in a more expedited way by combining their resources and technology to help register disaster survivors in person. Their highly visible FEMA Corps uniforms also have let impacted communities and disaster survivors know that FEMA is present and helping to meet their needs.
As part of their service, FEMA Corps graduates will receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to help them pay for college or pursue other learning opportunities in and out of emergency management.
"Being able to serve and to directly help disaster survivors in their greatest time of need has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined when I signed up for the program," said Margarita Andryushchenko, FEMA Corps Team Leader. "The experiences my team members and I have had over the past 10months will stay with us forever."
In addition to FEMA Corps campuses in Vicksburg and Vinton, FEMA Corps is also based out of Denver and Sacramento, Calif., and in the fall the campus in Baltimore, Md. will inaugurate its first class. A second class of FEMA Corps members from Vicksburg and Vinton will also begin in the fall.