Thursday, February 27, 2014

Celebrating #teamleaderthursday: Team Leader Reflections

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Q&A with Chassie Nix


 Why did you apply to be a Team Leader? 
I made up my mind and when the time came, and without wavering joined one of the best all-around programs for young people and myself in the United States.

Wholeheartedly, I joined because I wanted to change myself while changing the world. I am passionately concerned about worldly affairs therefor I can not sit idly by and not take any direct action. I may be in one place doing a job that seems irrelevant to some; but in fact the world is connected and every little thing I do is going to have an impact on someone else on a larger scale. 

Moreover, I grew up in a small Mississippi town with no opportunities that has caused a lot of hardship in my life. From this, I understand why this program is important to the communities that I will serve. For that reason, I recently took time off from a successful year of college, to join AmeriCorps.  I have no regrets for doing so.
What has TLT been like – a day in the life?
Every day has been a gratifying one. I won’t lie, it has been challenging, for I am inexperienced as a leader. But, as a person who wants to learn and grow, that’s exactly what I need. The knowledge that I have obtain in the short amount of time will be used throughout my life time. I am so blessed to be around individuals who want to push me to my limits, won’t let me fail, and are positive influences in my life. Nothing ever goes as planned, but that is what’s great about each day. Look forward to the unexpected and stay flexible.
What are you excited about for this upcoming year?
I am excited for everything this program has to offer. I’m looking forward to being pushed to the edge and tip toeing on it. For when this stage of my life comes to an end, I will be fearless and equipped for the future. The possibilities will be endless.

Perspective
By: Joseph Jensen

FEMA Corps team leader Joseph Jensen
The plane was a small glint above the Rocky Mountains. I flew inside its belly.  For the first time since arriving in Denver, I was granted perspective on the land around me. The Great Plains die in Colorado, seemingly endless flatlands slowly rising until the Rockies burst forth from the ground, jagged amethysts staggered under a clear blue sky. The sprawling city nestled in the mountains’ lee, giving birth to smaller towns and villages off crisscrossing highways. Mesas carved from red rock rose like suns. I felt very small in that small plane. The pilot’s voice clicked and popped into my headset. He pointed down into a valley.

“That’s Jamestown,” he said. “You see those hills?”
I did. They were brown, and barren. Remnants of trees pocked them like charred toothpicks.

“The fires hit there a few years back. When the rain came, there wasn’t nothing to hold the dirt back. Everything came down with the water and washed out the town.”
There were a few buildings, and a road they’d manage to rebuild. My friend was down there, working in a trailer which doubled as Jamestown’s new city hall. I couldn’t see her. The flight continued. The pilot’s finger pointed at new things. Bridges washed out. Neighborhoods caught in the path of the floods. Bodies of water the size of reservoirs. 

Flying over Colorado
“Those are the left-over puddles,” the pilot explained. 
We took a big loop and headed back toward the airport. It was late in the afternoon and the sun broke down over the mountains upon Denver, fading plaintively from yellow into hues of pink and crimson. The snow capping the tallest peaks glowed. Car lights flowed in a steady stream down highways to little towns and villages. 
Up there, I saw everything. I saw the damage wrought when the earth poured through in a muddy slurry. I saw the survivors, bereft and homeless, marching toward winter with a brave look on their faces. I saw those that came to help them from every corner of the country. A man smarter than me once said that he who knows the why to his life will be able to bear almost any how. Up there, seeing everything, my frustrations with bureaucracy and shared beds and living allowances made the small plane feel even smaller, and for the first time, really, I knew why I had joined FEMA Corps. 



Q&A with Holly Gerring

Why did you apply to be a FEMA Corps Team Leader?
I applied to be a FEMA Corps Team Leader because I believe that FEMA Corps is a fantastic program and I’d like to help it succeed. I served as a FEMA Corps member at the Sacramento campus last year and I saw firsthand how huge of an impact the program has on communities, as well as on FEMA Corps members. The program saves FEMA (and thusly taxpayers) millions of dollars, it gives FEMA’s workplace energetic, diverse talent and immensely helps prepare the nation for a major disaster (of Sandy’s proportions) because a larger source of trained disaster assistance personnel is ready to respond. Additionally, FEMA Corps trains young adults in a professional work environment, and teaches members how to work as a team and take responsibility for their actions, all of which will help corps members for years to come.
Team leader dinner action during TLT
What was TLT like?

TLT was a great exerience. In just one month, 27 strangers became a cohesive, passionate team of leaders. Through the trainings, I learned about myself, what I should do as a Team Leader and ideas of what I’d like to do. We’ve had very long days to prepare us for the long weeks ahead in the field, and we’ve had shorter days where I was able to appreciate how lucky I am to be a part of such an inspirational program with such giving peers in a lovely southern town.
What are you excited about for this upcoming year?


I’m excited about this year because I’ll get to help and observe FEMA Corps in action. From my corps members' growth to FEMA’s aid of disaster survivors, I’ll get to help make a difference. Additionally, having served in the program before, I’ll have the opportunity to watch the young program evolve. Finally, I’m excited to test myself as a leader. There’s no leadership experience quite like living with your team 24/7, and I look forward to pushing myself out of my comfort zone and growing into a better-rounded individual.
Why is National Service important to you?
National Service is dear to me because I believe in and enjoy helping people. The old adage of “Treat others as you would like to be treated” is at the core of my belief system and if my home were destroyed by a disaster, I know I’d appreciate help. Since I’m in a position where I can help, I am helping. Also, just knowing what I do in a day makes someone else’s day brighter or easier makes FEMA Corps not feel like work. I wake up every day knowing what I do makes a difference and I’m inspired to continue this work.




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