The Winchester Star Saturday, August 3, 2013 118th YEAR No. 26
WINCHESTER, VIRGINIA 22601
★ FEMA Corps helps prepare region for aid, crises Saturday in The Star
By MATT ARMSTRONG The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — When Midwest natives Sarah Hellier and Kate Enloe joined a new federal government program in Februar y, they probably did not know that their jobs would take them to parts of New Jersey ravaged by Hurricane Sandy before bringing them to the
northern Shena ndoa h Valley. FEMA Corps of 1,600 was designed to boost the government’s ability to respond to national disasters while expanding economic opportunities for young people and saving money for taxpayers. The first class of members graduated fr o m th e tra i ni ng pr o gr am in Septem b er 2012. “It’s a way to send help around
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the countr y and also get young pe o ple i nv ol v ed in e m e r ge n c y management,” said Hellier, the 23y ea r-ol d spokesw om a n f o r th e eight-person team now working in the Winchester area. Members, who range in age from 18 to 24, are given a living allowance of about $4,000 for 10 months of ser vice in addition to housi ng , meals and limited medi-
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A joint venture FEMA Corps is a joint venture of the Depar tment of Homeland Securi ty ’ s F edera l Em e r ge n c y Ma na g em ent Age n c y an d t he Am eri Corps Na ti ona l Ci v i l i a n Community Corps, often called “the domesti c Peace Corps.” See Corps, Page A6
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Corps from Page A1 FEMA was formed in 1978 with the primar y purpose of coordinating response and relief efforts for large-scale natural disasters. AmeriCorps began in 1993 with a goal to help localities around the countr y through community service projects and by working with nonprofi t agencies. En lo e , th e 2 4 -y ea r-ol d te am leader, said the program has allowed her to see what happens beh in d th e sc e n e s o f e m er gency managem ent operations. “It’s a really good look at what and how things go throughout the process,” she said this week. While some similarities exist between FEMA Corps and AmeriCorps — such as members being sent to different parts of the countr y for a 10-month period — the primar y difference between the organizations is the types of situations the agenci es respond to. “FEMA Corps responds only to disaster-related situations,” Hellier said. “We work only with FEMA. AmeriCorps can respond to a wide variety of things and do a wide variety of things.” Du r in g th e ir depl oy m ent to Winchester, Hellier and her teammates have helped staff members at the FEMA Financial Center in Frederick County to clear up any administrative clutter and prepare for potential aid requests during the hurrica ne season, Hellier said. If a hurricane struck the region while the team was still in Winchester, it would conduct fieldwork, accordi ng to Enloe. “If there were to be a hurricane, since that season’s coming up . . . , we’d be going door-to-door assessing needs of individuals,” she said. “Since that hasn’t happened yet, we’re kind of just waiting. Part of us being here is location, because it is close to the South, but right now we’r e just doing administrative tasks for the finance center, working on different projects in there.”
GINGER PERRY/ Th e Winch e s ter Star
Kate Enloe is the FEMA Corps Alpine 4 team leader.
Photo provided by Sarah Hellier
FEMA Corps team members pose for a por trait at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington. The inscription mentions the Civilian Conser vation Corps, a New Deal program similar to the present-day FEMA Corps.
“A great program”
Community involvement The team’s work in the communities extends beyond administrative work for FEMA. Due to its nature as a partnership between two agencies, FEMA Corps members must follow standar ds for both parent organizations. A primar y value of AmeriCorps is that teams become involved in the community. Since arriving in Winchester on June 27, the team has performed volunteer assistance in the Jubilee Soup Kitchen at First Presbyterian Church and at Winchester’s Salute to Our Troops parade on July 20. The corps will also perform volunteer work at a Habitat for Humanity house on Thursday and the city’s Friday Night Live event on the following day. The team’s last day of work at the FEMA Finance Center is Aug. 16, but it will do volunteer work at the soup kitchen on the day after. “Volunteering at the Jubilee Soup Kitchen was really a great experience,” Hellier said. “They run a really great kitchen there for poor people [and] homeless people, and it was really nice to volunteer there . . . .” F r e de r ic k Co u n ty r e side n t Daisy Fujishiro, who manages the soup kitchen with her husband K e n F uj i shi ro, said th e FEMA Corps team helped to prepare the food, ser ved those who came and cleaned up after the kitchen closed for the day. “They were ver y good to have, th e y w er e v er y go o d w orkers [and] I cer tainly am looking forward to having them back,” she
with the community and with the people, you get a little emotionally involved and it gets a little difficult to leave someti m es,” she said. The team also experienced difficult assignments in Lincroft, N.J., when it helped with relief efforts after Hurrica ne Sandy. “[Aid] applicants would come in that were still ver y devastated by the disaster — like, their home was still destroyed, they were still living out of a hotel — and this was six months after the disaster hit,” Hellier said. “This one particular couple came in and said that they were getting kicked out of their hotel and they basically were so devastated that they had nowhere to live and were going to be homeless in the next week.”
GINGER PERRY/ Th e Winchester Star
The FEMA Corps Alpine 4 members are Esmeralda Vidana (seated on the wall from left), Tyler Griffin and Emily Henr y; seated on the steps (from left) are Kate Enloe, team leader, Bethany Cour y, Sara Pearson, Sarah Hellier and Connor Smoot.
Tyler Griffin performs volunteer work in the Jubilee Soup Kitchen at First Presbyterian Church.
Sarah Hellier (right) and Esmeralda Vidana work at a field office in Lincroft, N.J.
❞ It’s a way to send help around the country and also get young people involved in emergency management. — Sarah Hellier, FEMA Corps member Bethany Cour y talks to workers at the Jubilee Soup Kitchen at First Presbyterian Church in Winchester. said by phone this week. The work has a downside, Hellier said, since corps member s can
become attached to a comm uni ty and be reluctant to leave after their brief assignm ents end.
“We’re here to volunt eer our time because it’s what we like to do and volunteeri ng , spendi ng time
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with degrees in journalism and political science, she was not sure what she wanted to do to start her career, Hellier said. “I was happy with my college experience, but I hadn’t really felt like I had made a difference yet,” said the native of Eden Prairie, Minn. “[I] saw this new program, FEMA Corps, and found that that was pretty much up my alley with the two degrees I had.” Enloe, a native of Platteville , Wis., said she was in the same position after gradua ti ng from the University of Wisconsi n-Pla ttevill e with degrees in comm uni ca ti ons technol og y and business administration in December 2011. “I f o u n d th is pr o gr am an d thought, ‘What better way to have an opportunity to work within the government and do ser vice as well and get to travel?’ ” she said. Enloe added that she is tor n over whether to sign up for another tour as a team leader. “I really love this program; I think it has a lot of room to grow into a really great thing. Also, though, it’s hard because . . . if there’s a hurricane you can’t leave, and I have some obligations in the upcoming year that I just can’t miss out on, personally, at home.” Hellier said she is considering signing up for a tour as a team leader after her current stint ends. “FEMA Corps is a great program for anyone who likes to travel and meet new people and become active in th e com m uni ti es tha t they’re in,” she said. Additional infor mation about FEMA Corps, including how to join and the requirements for joining, is available at www.nationalservice.gov/ programs/americorps/fema-corps. — Contact Matt Armstrong at email@example.com