Every #femacorpsfriday in March, we'll be profiling former FEMA Corps members - asking them why and where they served, and what they've been doing since graduation. If you're interested in learning more about FEMA Corps after reading their stories, visit www.nationalservice.gov, or send your questions to email@example.com.
This week we spoke with Dustin Hendrikse, who graduated from the Southern Region with the inagural FEMA Corps class. He now works on staff with FEMA.
What is your name, and where are you from?
My name is Dustin Jon Hendrikse and I am originally from
Before FEMA Corps I went to university and graduated with a B.A. in Graphic Arts.
I decided to join FEMA Corps because I wanted to help people, plain and simple. I knew since I was young that I wanted to help people for a living when I got older and I saw this as a good opportunity to start.
What is one of your most memorable FEMA Corps experiences?
One of my most memorable FEMA Corps experiences was one day working Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island, NY. My team went to a Hispanic community center to register survivors. There was a mother and her two young children, one little girl and her older brother who couldn’t have been more than 7 years old. While the mother was registering with a teammate of mine during a not so busy period of the day, I had the opportunity to make paper boats and color with the two children. They had lost almost everything they had during the hurricane but three weeks after, that day at the community center, I never would have guessed that they have been so heavily effective. These kids were so joyful and happy that afternoon, it really spoke to the optimism and human resilience of people going through hard times.
What was your favorite area to serve in?
I was lucky enough to work in three fantastic places, Birmingham/Cordova, Alabama, New York City, New York, and Washington, D.C., so it’s hard to pick one out.
What was the most challenging part of your service experience?
The most challenging part of my year of service was trying not to exhaust myself during the first month or two during Hurricane Sandy. We were working 14 hour days, while our drive to work took 1-2 hours, so just resting during that time was a challenge.
What did you learn while serving with FEMA Corps that helped you to land a full-time job with FEMA?
My year of serving with FEMA Corps helped me gain the experience working in disaster situations, and also creating professional documents for FEMA.
What is your current position with FEMA, and what does that job entail?
I work Operations for Recovery Operations and Readiness Coordination under the Recovery Directorate. This entails the continuing development and implementation of the Disaster Survivor Assistance program, as well as, facilitating and coordinating Recovery Directorate efforts that seek to improve Recoveries overall readiness posture and operations capabilities, in order to improve the survivor’s experience with FEMA and strengthen disaster recovery across the Whole Community.
Since working with FEMA, how have you applied the skills and experiences you gained while serving with FEMA Corps?
I have used my field experience gained during my FEMA Corps year to develop, test, and analyze new tools for the Disaster Survivor Assistance program.
Do you have any advice for folks applying to serve with FEMA Corps and/or currently serving FEMA Corps members?
The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone in FEMA Corps is to remember that everything you do during your year of service helps the disaster survivors. You may not be directly interacting with the survivors, but all your work helps make that survivor’s recovery an easier experience.
Thanks to Dustin Hendrikse for this week's #femacorpsfriday post! Next week, we'll be talking with Lizzie McSherry about her FEMA Corps experience and where she's at now.