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AmeriCorps NCCC

Escape the Ordinary A Newsletter for NCCC Applicants Volume 2, Issue 4

June 2011

All About NCCC

Special points of interest:  See what Perry Point’s Raven Two is up to  Amy Cheng-An Alumni Perspective  The Impact of Class XVII in the Southern Region  Count on Us: AmeriCorps’ Response in Joplin

Inside this issue: Where Are We Now

2

Getting Things Done: Catching Up with Raven 2

3

National Service: Count on Us

4

An Alumni Perspective

5

The Benefits of Service

6

So you’ve been waitlisted

7

The Impact of Service: Southern Region

7

AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, teambased residential program for men and women ages 18-24. NCCC members are assigned to one of five campuses and organized into teams of 10-12 members. Campuses are located in Perry Point, MD, Vinton, IA, Denver, CO, Vicksburg, MS, and Sacramento, CA. NCCC teams serve approximately 4 – 6 projects throughout their ten months of service. NCCC serves every state, responding to pressing local needs that are identified by organizations in the community. Projects are focused on the following five categories – Natural and Other Disasters, Infrastructure Improvement, Environmental Stewardship and Conservation, Energy Conservation, and Urban and Rural Development. Through an inter-agency agreement with FEMA and arrangement with the American Red

Cross, NCCC members have responded to every national disaster since the program was established. Starting in 2010, NCCC has been tasked as the primary service provider of disaster relief for the entire Corporation for National and Community Service.100 percent of members are certified in CPR, first aid, and disaster response; approximately 15% are firefighter trained by the National Park and U.S. Forest Services. NCCC teams also support local disaster relief organizations to help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural or man-made disasters. Since September 2005, approximately 85 percent of NCCC members from all campuses have served more than 2.7 million hours on 1380 relief and recovery projects.


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Where Are We Now?

Atlantic Region Perry Point, MD North Central Region Vinton, IA Pacific Region Sacramento, CA Southern Region Vicksburg, MS Southwest Region Denver, CO

Carl Junction, MO—Pacific Region’s Blue 2 team is working with FEMA in continued response to the Joplin tornado. The team is providing support in assist with disaster case management; homeowner intake at call centers; leading volunteer teams; debris clean-up; pet support. Anchorage, AK—Pacific Region’s Gold 6 team is working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Alaska. They are assisting with facilities upgrades and working with youth in summer programming. Toppenish, WA—Pacific Region’s Silver 6 team is working with the Yakima Nation Tribal Council. The team’s spike consists of repairing homes damaged by fire and wind storms, as well as new home construction. Joplin, MO—75 Corps Members from the Southwest Region (8 teams) are continuing to assist with disaster relief efforts, including warehouse management, call center work, chainsaw work, emergency tarping, emergency home repair, debris removal and other housing stabilization services, and various other tasks as assigned Colorado Springs, CO—Southwest Region’s Fire 2 team is assisting the Emergency Services Division of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. The team is engaging in wildland fire suppression and forest thinning, as well as a fire suppression hand crew.

**NOTE** No projects are listed for the Southern, Atlantic, and North Central Regions. Corps Members of Class 17 at the Southern Region recently graduated, and Class 18 Corps Members arrive in Vicksburg to begin their service year in early July. In addition, Atlantic and North Central Corps Members are currently on their Summer Break and will embark on their next service projects in mid-July.

Want to Serve for a Day?

Serve with a current team of NCCC Members at a project in your area! Contact anccc@cns.gov for more information.

** Please note, we may be unable to accommodate all ―Serve for a Day‖ requests due to sponsor restrictions.**


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Getting Things Done: Catching Up with Raven 2 For their first project, Raven 2 was deployed from the Atlantic Region campus in Perry Point to Washington, DC. The team worked with Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC, whose mission is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness in the nation's capital by building affordable, energy- and resource-efficient homes for people in need. Raven 2 primarily worked in Ivy City, an industrial neighborhood in Northeast DC, and worked on 6 new homes and 2 rehabilitated structures. I spoke with Team Leader Ambrosia Barnette and Corps Members Michelle Faherty and Alyson Keefer about their experiences in our Nation’s Capital.

What were the team’s thoughts as you arrived in DC for the project? Ambrosia Barnette: I was excited, not just for myself, but also for the team, to begin our service year in our Nation’s Capital. I was looking forward to constructing houses and was eager to get started.

grew very close with our site supervisor and with the staff of DC Habitat. Everyone appreciated the work that we did, staff members, Raven 2 posing with DC Habitat staff folks in the neighborhood – everyone showed us a lot of love. Oh, construction is completed). I wish I had and I’ll miss the 8-bedroom house that more experience with things such as we lived in during the project. painting, caulking, installing cabinetry. Also, if I had been more mentallyMF: I was amazed by our progress. All prepared, I could have remained a step of the painting, the installed bathroom ahead. fixtures, the insulation laid. It was great to see how much we accomplished. AK: I grew very attached to DC Habitat. It was truly a ―group project,‖ how much we accomplished, but how we interacted with other volunteers and the owners of the house. I also loved how much there is to do in DC. I was proud of our work and the difference we made, but sad to go.

Michelle Faherty: I had not ever been to DC, so I was looking forward to exploring the city – going on tours, hitting the Smithsonian. I was also excited to What’s one thing you wish you be working for such a well-known organ- knew at the beginning of the proization. Who hasn’t heard of Habitat for ject that you know now? Humanity and the work that they do? AB: What was so nice about this project Alyson Keefer: I was also very excited. is that, last year, my final project as a Though I have already been to Washing- Corps Member was here. I already was ton, DC, it had not been for a long time. good friends with the Habitat staff and I, too, was glad that we would be work- pretty much knew exactly what to exing with such a well-known organizapect. tion. In applying to NCCC, I hoped that MF: I wish I knew how to use power I would get to work with Habitat. tools. If I had had any prior knowledge or experience, it would have definitely sped up the learning curve. But instead, What were your thoughts at the I had to be trained on everything. project’s conclusion? AK: I had no idea about ―punch out‖ AB: I was sad to leave the project. I work (the final clean-up tasks before

What was the most surprising moment of the project? AB: As a TL, especially on our first project, I didn’t know how the team would work together, how well they communicate, what kind of work ethic they have. It was great to see how quickly they picked up on things. They learned things quickly and knew exactly what to do. MF: Being on a Habitat site, there were actually very few staff and a lot of volunteers. Each day, I would be surprised at how much was actually accomplished. But I was most surprised at the generosity of people. Volunteers who didn’t know the neighborhood or the people they were helping would show up and work so hard. I was amazed at the volunteer spirit. AK: Upon reflection of the project, I was most surprised at how our team came together, how we had changed in such a short period of time. We became very self-sufficient and developed a great (Continued on page 4)


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concept of the daily work. We became ―effectively efficient.‖

What was the most trying moment? AB: Despite our awesome accommodations, our living situation became the most trying portion of the project. Everyone had to learn how to co-exist with each other. I had to learn how to deal with the little conflicts that sometimes flare up.

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job. Upon re-entering the house, our site supervisor was shocked at our drenched condition. He then apologized and said, ―If I had known it was raining, I would have given you something else to do.‖

MF: It’s very easy to become distracted, especially when you’re tired or frustrated. My best advice, especially during those times, is to remember the reasons why you joined NCCC. Oh, and stay positive.

What was the most rewarding or memorable moment?

AK: In difficult times, take a deep breath and don’t stress about the little things – they usually don’t matter anyway. Stay positive and just enjoy the ten months. You won’t ever forget them.

AB: Our last week in DC, we got to celebrate with our sponsors. The appreciation the DC Habitat staff had for us was terrific. We were really proud of our accomplishments. MF: Without a doubt, the day we met the owners of the home we were working on was most rewarding. They were so appreciative and couldn’t stop thanking us.

AK: One day on the work site, a lady from the neighborhood came MF: I was most frustrated by my lack of up to me and thanked me for everything we were doing. It’s so rewarding experience in construction. One day I Raven 2 just completed their 2nd Round was given the task of installing wooden to know that, not only are we helping project, which was spent rehabbing Girl shelf cleats (in order to install shelving the new home owners, but the entire Scout camps in Delaware and cleaning neighborhood benefits from our work. in a closet). I had to nail the cleats into up parks in Pennsylvania. The Team is the studs behind the drywall despite currently enjoying their Summer Break, not having a stud-finder. After a while, but will be back in service during their the site supervisor came over to help And finally, what is one piece of 3rd Round project in mid-July. and finished the job in about 5 minutes. advice you would give to prospective Corps Members? AK: One day, I was working to build forms so that the concrete sidewalk in AB: Stay open-minded and be flexible. Track Raven 2 front of the house could be poured. After No two teammates are going to be exa bit, it started raining - hard. My actly the same, but we have to come Follow the team’s adventures on teammate and I were absolutely soaked, together to get things done. their Twitter page. but we kept working and finished the

National Service: Count on Us—Joplin Response On May 22, the deadliest tornado in more than 60 years struck Joplin, Missouri. Within hours, AmeriCorps members were on the ground setting up a missing persons hotline and aiding in search and rescue. One month later, AmeriCorps members have provided critical support - clearing debris, managing donations, repairing homes, and helping manage more than 32,000 volunteers who have provided 190,000 hours of service. This "National Service - Count on Us: Joplin" video shows the vital role AmeriCorps is playing in supporting the people of Joplin as they recover and rebuild.


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An Alumni Perspective Amy Cheng served as a Corps Member in Class XI and as a Team Leader in Class XII at the Capital Region campus in Washington, DC (since closed). What follows is her reflection of her two years of service in NCCC.

How many teammates did you have as a Corps Member? How many do you still keep in contact with? As a Corps Member, I had 11 teammates, 7 girls and 4 guys (including the Team Leader). I am still close with my TL and 2 of the girls. What were some of your projects? Which was your favorite? As a Corps Member, some of my projects included trail-building and ―step construction‖ with the Nature Conservancy in Virginia, operating a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site in Delaware, and we started work on a house in rural West Virginia designated for volunteer groups working in the Appalachia region. But my favorite project came when I was a Team Leader. My team was assigned to a Habitat for Humanity project in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was really struggling, wondering if I was actually making a difference. The team, too, was struggling. But the project was perfect for us. We had an awesome sponsor and site supervisor. We were able to tangibly see the results of our work, and the team definitely rebounded from a low point to finish out the service year strong. What were your most interesting/ challenging accommodations? I was actually very tolerant of all of my housing situations. I came into the program knowing that flexibility would be key, that I wouldn’t be living comfortably. One project, we lived in a gymnasium at a school, sleeping on cots. We did not have a full kitchen, so we heated meals on Bunsen burners and took showers at a local YMCA. But

again, it didn’t bother me. My teammates and I looked at the accommodations as a challenge, and we knew we could get through it together. What are your fondest overall memories? In looking back at my two years in NCCC, the projects aren’t what comes to mind. I think about all of the time I enjoyed with a lot of very good people.

work site, everyone was fine. But during free time… It was definitely a crazy team dynamic. What was the most challenging part of your ten months of service? How did you overcome these challenges?

At the time, there were a lot of challenges. But looking back, the things that challenged me and my teammates on a daily basis were never that big of What was something you did for a deal. To overcome those little daily the first time? challenges, you need to keep in mind your passion for service, for ―getting Everything! NCCC was the first time I things done.‖ planted a tree, did any construction work, served disaster relief, removed invasive species, had an awkward conversation with one of my Corps Members about the need to shower more often, learned how to live with a group of crazy people. I think the entire experience was one big learning session. What was the most outrageous thing that you did? I didn’t have too many ―outrageous‖ experiences. One odd thing about my year as a Team Leader was how many couples emerged from that team. There were 3 or 4 couples that made up my team. There were no problems at the

Why do you think national service is important? The NCCC program definitely pushes you out of your comfort zone. It fulfills a desire to do something, to be a part of something larger than yourself. It changes your perspective and challenges your preconceived notions. It breaks you down, then builds you back up. How has your NCCC experience affected your life? I come from a traditional Asian family. Service to others is definitely not em(Continued on page 6)


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(Continued from page 5)

phasized, and I really had to convince my mother that this was something I wanted to do and that it was NOT military service. Based on my experiences, my family has opened up to the ideals of serving the community. Professionally, I finished my Masters in Social Work and worked for several years in the school systems in San Diego. Currently, I work as an admissions counselor in Chicago for a program called Year Up. We provide intensive professional and technical skills development for qualifying at -risk youth who have recently graduated high school or received their GED. Do you have any advice for prospective Corps Members?

Congressional Gold Medal Recipients On June 23, four NCCC alumni received the Congressional Gold Medal Recipients of the prestigious award must complete over 400 hours of community service, as well as work towards other goals in Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration. Recipients were honored in a ceremony on Capitol Hill. NCCC Staff congratulates the following for this tremendous honor:

Rebecca Constantine—Atlantic Region, Class XVI

Jenna Kreitzer—Atlantic Region, Class XIV & XV (TL)

Autumn Sicking—Pacific Region, Class XV

Cassandra Holtz—Pacific Region, Class XV

For more information about the award, please visit congressionalaward.org.

Serve On Forum—NCCC Insider

That’s easy! Don’t bring so much stuff – physical stuff, emotional stuff. Believe me, you just won’t need it.

Look for more information upcoming on the NCCC Facebook and Twitter pages. Our next topic will include a Reflection of Service in Joplin, focusing on NCCC’s role is Disaster Relief operations.

The Benefits of Service 

Uniform—includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, BDU pants, shorts, steel-toed boots

Housing—campus residences are coed floors with same gender roommates; spike housing is provided by the project sponsor

Health Care—complimentary coverage includes payment of most medical and surgical costs, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and emergency care

Child Care—up to $400 per month may be available for  a custodial parent of a minor child

Personal Days—Corps Members are entitled to 3 paid personal days off from service, as well as 2 paid ―Life After AmeriCorps‖ days (subject to approval).

Transportation—NCCC will cover the cost of a Corps Member’s travel to a campus prior to the start of a service year and back home at the end of service.

Living Allowance—approximately $4000 per year (or

$200 every two weeks) before taxes

Education Award—once a Corps Member has completed 1700 hours of service, they are eligible for the Education Award. Currently, the award is $5550.

Loan Forbearance—if Corps Members have Federal Education loans (Perkins, Stafford, or Direct Loans) they may be placed in forbearance. Once a Member earns an Ed. Award, NCCC will pay the interest accrued on these loans while the Member was in service.

College Credit—we currently offer, through the American Council of Education, undergraduate credit for the following three-credit-hour courses: Introduction to Service Learning and Diversity in Service (available to both Team Leaders and Corps Members); and Supervisory Skills (available only to Team Leaders). . Certification from American Humanics in Nonprofit Employment and Management—NCCC alumni may enroll in this online program offered by the University of Montana and LSU-Shreveport.

For more detailed information about benefits, please go here. If you have any further questions, please contact us at (800) 942-2677 or anccc@cns.gov


A M E R I C OR P S N C C C

So you’ve been waitlisted… Now what?

1201 New York Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20525

So you’ve applied to NCCC, an opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to see the country, to help those in need, to meet new people. After receiving a packet in the mail, you excitedly read through all of the information, called the number, answered a few questions, then scheduled an assessment. The day of your assessment arrives, and… “An email from AmeriCorps? Status update? Assessment complete? NOW WHAT HAPPENS???”

Phone: 800-942-2677 Fax: 202-606-3482 Email: anccc@cns.gov http://www.americorps.gov/nccc http://my..americorps.gov

First of all, don’t panic. In fact, congratulations are in order. ―Waitlisted‖ is synonymous with ―recommended for service.‖ Your application was reviewed, and it was decided that you possess the motivation, flexibility, and work ethic to be considered for a position in NCCC.

Follow NCCC Online:

You first must accept your Waitlist status through your My AmeriCorps account by following the instructions in the email. Once you do, you will receive another packet in the mail in about one week. This Waitlist Packet contains items that you need to fill out and return to us. One of the enclosed sheets will direct you to a short online survey. Completion of the survey is MANDATORY. The Medical/Mental Health Information Form is a clearance process designed to ensure that you are mentally and physically capable of participating fully; and that NCCC can ensure your safety and wellbeing. The medical form is simply a questionnaire—there is no need for a special visit to your doctor to complete the form. Finally, the Fingerprint Card (FPC) must be taken to a local police department to be completed. We recommend contacting the PD to determine if you must schedule an appointment or if a small fee is charged for the service. Please note—INCOMPLETE FORMS WILL BE RETURNED! It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you return your medical form and fingerprint card by the specified date. Failure to do so will result in automatic disqualification. If you have any extenuating circumstances that prevent you from meeting this deadline, please let us know by emailing us at anccc@cns.gov. Once the forms have been returned to us, the next step is placement. NCCC employs a ―rolling admissions‖ process, similar to many colleges. We have a first round of placements during the application period, make a second round of placements once our application period is closed, and continue to fill slots as they become available, including up to the day before a campus opens. All selections and placements are RANDOM. We simply have more qualified applicants than we have slots available, and we are unable to guarantee a position to all qualified applicants. Finally, a word of caution… Please keep your profile in your My AmeriCorps account as up to date as possible to receive all of our mailings. Several instances have been reported of recent college graduates who never received a packet, only to find out it had been delivered weeks before to their University Mailbox..

NCCC Southern Region: The Impact of Service On May 26, 137 Members of Class XVII ended their year of service with NCCC with a graduation ceremony. Corps Members and Team Leaders were recognized for their passion and dedication by NCCC National Director Kate Raftery, founding Director of the MS Commission for Volunteer Service Marsha Meeks Kelly, and Region Director Gary Turner. Members were honored with Governor’s Awards sent by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield had a special recognition for Team Leaders. The 137 Members of Class XVII contributed over 238,000 hours of service to the Southern Region, and each Member contributed to assisting over 34,000 victims of disaster in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Other accomplishments include:

Leveraging 7417 volunteers

Suppressing or containing fire from 1477 acres

Building 44 new homes; renovating 216

Restoring or constructing 58 miles of hiking trails

Collecting, inventorying, or distributing 287 tons of food

Returning over $100 thousand to communities through income tax preparation

Assessing 300 homes and filling 4000 sand bags in preparation for flooding of the Mississippi River

Congratulations to Class XVII. We thank you for your hard work, your dedication, and the impacts you had on the communities and people of the Southern Region.

Previous editions of the “Escape the Ordinary” will soon be available on NCCC Facebook and Twitter pages.

NCCC National Applicant Newsletter  

Newsletter for the AmeriCorps NCCC program. This is the applicant newsletter.

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