Escape the Ordinary A Newsletter for NCCC Applicants Volume 2, Issue 6
Special points of interest: See What Vinton’s Cedar 3 is up to Ben Duda—AmeriCorps Alums Executive Director Upcoming Events in NCCC The Impact of Service of Class XVII in the Southwest and Pacific Regions
Inside this issue: Where Are We Now?
Getting Things Done: Catching Up with Cedar 3
An Alumni Perspective: Ben Duda
The Impact of Service
So you’ve been assessed...
The Benefits of Service
All About NCCC 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
New England/Mid-Atlantic—Approximately 75 Corps Members from the Southern, Atlantic, and North Central Regions are being deployed to areas ravaged by Hurricane Irene (including New York City, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Eastern Shore of Maryland) to run shelters and provide support to FEMA and the American Red Cross. Charlottesville, VA—Southern Region’s Delta 1 is working for Charlottesville’s Local Energy Alliance Program. The team is canvassing area communities, planning and implementing community events, conducting home energy reviews and recruit and training volunteers as part of the "EmPOWERing Neighborhoods" project, a community based home energy efficiency initiative. New Orleans, LA—Southern Region’s River 4 team is working with Rebuilding Together New Orleans in rebuilding, deconstructing, and leveraging volunteers in the Hurricane Katrina-affected community. Minot, ND—North Central’s Cedar 5 and Oak 7 teams are continuing work with Nachema Jewish Disaster Response. The teams are cleaning and sanitizing homes in the Minot area affected by flooding this Spring. The teams are also restoring homes to a safe living space. Omaha, NE—Oak 1 from North Central is working with the Papio-Missouri River National Resources District to provide 24-hour monitoring of the Missouri River levee by through walking or ATV use.
**NOTE** No projects are listed for the Atlantic, Pacific, or Southwest Regions. Atlantic Region teams are in transition this week and will deploy to their final projects next week. In the Pacific and Southwest Regions, Class 18 Team Leaders arrive for training in Sacramento and Denver in early September, and Corps Members begin training in October.
Want to Serve for a Day?
Serve with a current team of NCCC Members at a project in your area! Contact email@example.com 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 Cedar 3 By Tim Staub
For their Third Round project, Cedar 3 was deployed from the North Central Region campus in Vinton to Minot, North Dakota. The team, along with Vinton’s Oak 5, is working with several non-profits, including Lutheran Disaster Response North Dakota and Nechama Jewish Disaster Response. The teams are cleaning up debris and sanitizing homes in flood-ravaged areas of central North Dakota. I spoke with Cedar 3 Team Leader Drew Simmons and Corps Members David Condlin and Caroline Hayward about their experiences on disaster relief in Minot.
Caroline Hayward: I really had no idea how much destruction was caused by these floods. There was much less media coverage for the floods than there were for the tornado outbreaks in Missouri and the Southeast, so I was shocked to find out that of the roughly 4000 homes that were destroyed in the flood, only 400 had any flood insurance.
What were the team’s thoughts as you arrived in Minot for the project?
What were your thoughts at the project’s conclusion?
Drew Simmons: We expected to work hard here. We had previously served a disaster relief project in Okolona, Mississippi for Round 2, and had done debris removal and home repair, so we pretty much knew what to expect. However, this was my first time seeing the damage of a massive flood, so the project had a different feel.
DS: First, I think of the long hours and long days we’ve had working here. However, this has been a great opportunity to provide help in a community that truly needs it. We’ve been able to remove debris and clean up 20 different houses.
David Condlin: Though the two projects were similar in scope, there were some differences. In Mississippi, the damage caused by the tornado threw debris everywhere. Here in Minot, damage was not apparent until you entered a house. The destruction was still there; it was just more ―organized.‖
DC: At the beginning, this project was so physically tough. And I had to get used to wearing the coveralls and respirator masks because of the mold build-up in the homes. Now, this project has been so fulfilling. We’re focusing on the homes of the elderly, single parents, and the disabled, who have all been so gracious. They’ve been so motivating. CH: Projects like this are the reason I joined NCCC. There’s such a need here and not enough people to help. It’s so worthwhile to know that I’ve made a difference here.
What’s one thing you wish you knew at the beginning of the project that you know now? DS: First, though we had an idea because of our project in Mississippi, is how hard this work is. The weather is so hot, and on top of that, we’ve had to use the respirators. It’s been so physically drain-
ing on the team. DC: I’ve found that, because we’ve been working so hard, we’ve had to supplement our Red Cross-provided lunches with our own food. We’ve just been burning so many calories. The hard work, the hot weather – it’s been tough. CH: I wish that, at the beginning of the project, I knew more of what was needed to be done, of how to effectively help. I feel that if I had more knowledge or skills at the beginning of our work here, we could have done so much more for the flood victims.
What was the most surprising moment of the project? DS: I was most surprised at how appreciative everyone is of our service. This community is very engaged, working together to help their neighbors. But they have thanked us so much for our work. DC: The first time you enter a home that was flooded, it is shocking to see everything destroyed. Also, I was surprised at how positive the people are. Despite their losses, they are looking to move forward, to rebuild. Finally, I’ve become more aware that disaster anywhere, anytime. I’ve been so much more appreciative of what I have. CH: I was surprised by the sense of community here. Everything that this community has lost, everyone has pulled together to help their neighbors and friends, working side by side to recover and rebuild. (Continued on page 4)
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CH: We’ve worked incredibly long hours – at the worksite at 8 AM, and not getting home until 9 PM, six, and sometimes seven days per week. And not only the physical labor, but the mental and emotional toll of the project.
What was the most rewarding or memorable moment?
What was the most trying moment? DS: For me, it’s been logistics. I don’t feel like I’ve spent much time on the worksite because of all the little injuries that keep coming up, and all the runs I’ve had to make to the hospital. The physical toll this project has had in the team has been hard. We’ve done what we can, like adjusting our PT schedule to include more stretching, but still…
DS: My favorite house so far has been the one owned by an 87-year-old World War II veteran. He was unable to get anything out of his house, so everything was destroyed. But it was such a treat to talk with him, and he was so appreciative of our work. DC: I think of the hugs we’ve received from homeowners. Ten able-bodied young people who helped them recover, it was probably the first time they’ve smiled in months.
CH: The family at the second home we worked on will stick with me. They worked side-by-side with us, and the lady DC: Besides the physical difficulties, cried at the end of the day at how much we’ve had to share our housing with the our service meant to her. She told us that other team working here. There was more our one day of help would have taken drama, more tension as each team got them alone a few months to accomplish. It used to the other. Each team was cohesive was so rewarding. on its own, but we were suddenly put together to form a larger ―team.‖ The adjustment period wasn’t easy, especially conAnd finally, what is one piece of adsidering how tired we all were at the end of each day. But in the end, it worked out. vice you would give to prospective Corps Members?
DS: Just roll with it. This is such a cool experience, so make the most of it. Embrace everything, even the tough times. DC: First of all, don’t think that everyone has applied to this program for the same reasons as you. You can’t choose your team, and know that there will be drama. But it’s healthy to have disputes. You will learn to adjust to others and realize it’s not ―my way or the highway.‖ Finally, you aren’t guaranteed to see or do what you want. But appreciate all of the opportunities you are given in the program. CH: There’s not a lot you can do to prepare for this experience, except to keep an open mind and an open heart. This program will change you – EMBRACE THAT CHANGE!
Cedar 3 will soon embark on their final project to Camp Courageous in Monticello, IA. The camp provides a year-round respite care and recreational facility for disabled individuals of all ages. The team will be serving as camp counselors, providing support to camp staff, and doing light maintenance work.
READ ALL ABOUT IT… See what the local media said about the impact of Cedar 3’s service.
Upcoming Events This year, on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, more than one million Americans are expected to participate in service and remembrance activities, such as food drives and neighborhood clean-ups. Others will honor veterans, soldiers, and first responders through fundraising, care packages, and thank you letters. To find out where and how you can participate, visit serve.gov/sept11.
Become an NCCC Member for a Day! On October 22, the NCCC Atlantic Region will host service events in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Camden, NJ. For more information on these events, check out the promotional fliers (here and here), as well as FAQ’s. To register, fill out the online registration form.
In Mid September, the next NCCC Insider: Serve On Forum will be held. Look for more information about this conference call series soon!
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An Alumni Perspective: Ben Duda By Tim Staub
Ben Duda served as a Corps Member in Class VI at the Capital Region campus in Washington, DC, and as a Team Leader in Class VII at the Western Region campus in San Diego (since moved to Sacramento). What follows is Ben’s reflection of his time as a Corps Member in NCCC.
How many teammates did you have as a Corps Member? How many do you still keep in contact with? From my Corps Member year, I finished the year with ten teammates. Originally, there were 12 on my team, but there was attrition. I have strong friendships with three of my teammates. I also keep in contact with other Corps Members who were not on my team. Finally, there was a group of us that, after completing our service year, became Team Leaders in San Diego. I remain close with them, as well. What were some of your projects? Which was your favorite? My first project as a Corps Member was with the York Habitat for Humanity in York, PA. We worked to finish up a house for a wonderful family before the Christmas holiday. Our sponsor told us how we ―fast-forwarded‖ the work on the project. We finished the house before the holidays and were able to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. It was an inspiring moment. After returning from the Winter Break, we served on MLK Day in DC. I was the co-lead of a large volunteer effort (over 300 people). We worked with the Community for Creative NonViolence doing clean-up work, light renovations, and creating a mural at the CCNV shelter. Afterwards, my team and I headed to Roanoke, VA, to do some trail work and camp renovation. We then spent three months in Cincinnati with ReSTOC. Located in a gentrifying neighborhood, the organization sought to provide affordable quality housing for the low-income residents. We also did some tutoring
and mentoring for some of the neighWhat didn’t I do for the first time! I borhood kids, as well as some outreach made dinner for 12 very different peowork, such as providing job readiness ple. I used a chainsaw and a gasskills. It was probably my favorite pro- powered auger for the first time and ject because we were very intimidated learned how to shingle a roof. As a upon arrival. However, we made sure young adult, I had to talk with unemto be out in the community everyday ployed adults about steps they could wearing the uniform and doing good take to regain employment. The list work. By the end of the three months just goes on… there, we could see the difference we had make and were recogBen is the Execunized for our hard work and tive Director of welcomed by community AmeriCorps Alums, members. Finally, we fina national; network ished our service year by of over 600,000 doing trail construction and running a summer day camp AmeriCorps alumni. The organization’s goal is to get alumni connected, equipped, and enat a public housing project gaged in order to foster their natural leaderoutside of DC in Silver ship drive and potential. For more information, Spring, MD. check out the AmeriCorps Alum website at What were your most in- http://www.americorpsalums.org/. teresting/challenging acWhat was the most outrageous commodations? thing that you did? We never had any difficult housing situations, but I had to get used to Not really outrageous, but the most sharing a bedroom with 4 – 6 other interesting experience was when we people. We had to get used to each oth- were in Blacksburg, VA. We stayed at er’s needs, what we each required to the hotel where many scenes from stay sane. I found that, whenever I Dirty Dancing were filmed. Watching needed time to myself, I would plug the movie, we could identify a lot of the into my Discman (no iPods back then) same places. and go for a run. That time was very What was the most challenging therapeutic for me. part of your ten months of service? What are your fondest overall How did you overcome these chalmemories? lenges? I remember all of the people I met while serving, all of the work we did, and all of the positive impacts we created (especially the ribbon-cutting ceremony in York). I remember puling into Cincinnati and questioning if we were really supposed to be there and what difference we could make. But at the end, seeing all of our contributions and all the connections we made within that community. I especially remember the friendships created, all of the great conversations I had with the 12 very diverse people on my team. What was something you did for the first time?
Working with ReSTOC in Cincinnati was our most challenging project. Not only was it our longest project, but we were definitely intimidated, feeling like outsiders to the community. However, we had great dialogue with our sponsor. We also made sure we interacted with the community whenever we could, at the local farmer’s market, the neighborhood jazz club. We also engaged in a lot of service learning during that project, learning about the history of the neighborhood, racial and political tension there, especially as a result of the gentrification. (Continued on page 6)
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you have to give your all every day. Do you have any advice for proThe benefits speak for themselves, and spective Corps Members? Why do you think national service the impacts are significant. Don’t bring a lot with you – physical is important? How has your NCCC experience stuff, assumptions. You must be flexiNational service is incredibly imble to have a good experience, and the affected your life? portant. It provides young Americans stuff and the assumptions are just NCCC is the most important thing I the opportunity to see and engage in distractions. Also, prepare to be chaltheir country and its communities in a have done. It is such a watershed exlenge in ways you never expected. perience and has led me directly to my Give yourself the chance to struggle; very unique and powerful way. Especially NCCC is such an immersive, not role today as the Executive Director of these will provide you the greatest episodic, program – the uniform, living AmeriCorps Alums. opportunities for growth. within the communities you serve – (Continued from page 5)
The Impact of Service Southwest Region
On July 29, 284 Members of Class XVII in NCCC’s Southwest Region ended their year of service with a graduation ceremony. Corps Members and Team Leaders were recognized for their passion and dedication by NCCC National Director Kate Raftery and Region Director Barbara Lane. The 284 Members of Class XVII contributed over 543,000 hours of service to the Southwest Region, including providing Disaster Relief services to over 53,672 victims of disaster. Other accomplishments include: Over 50,000 volunteers leveraged More than 1 million pounds of trash / debris removed 5,328 students mentored 158 miles of trail built or restored 64 new houses constructed
On July 21, 256 Members of Class XVII at the Pacific Region ended their year of service with a graduation ceremony. Corps Members and Team Leaders were recognized for their passion and dedication by NCCC National Director Kate Raftery and Region Director Jose Phillips. The 256 Members of Class XVII contributed 300,000 hours of service to the Pacific Region. Accomplishments include: Over 204 tons of trash or debris removed More than 17,000 students tutored or supported through after-school programming 120 miles of trail built or restored More than 80 houses constructed Over 160 tons of non-native vegetation removed
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 Southwest and Pacific Regions!
A M E R I C OR P S N C C C 1201 New York Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20525 Phone: 800-942-2677 Fax: 202-606-3482 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.americorps.gov/nccc http://my..americorps.gov Follow NCCC Online:
So you’ve been assessed… Now what? 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???” First of all, don’t panic. In fact, congratulations are in order. 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. Though your status in your My AmeriCorps now reads ―Assessment Complete,‖ you will soon be placed onto the Waitlist. You must accept your ―Waitlisted‖
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 email@example.com. 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..
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 firstname.lastname@example.org