New Americorps groups aid in recovery efforts
November 23, 2011
JOPLIN – Two 11-member AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) teams based out of Denver will spend a month contributing to ongoing tornado recovery efforts in Joplin.

These teams, named Earth 3 and Earth 5, arrived in Joplin on November 13 and will be on site until December 14, 2011. Earth 3 will be assisting the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team (ERT) in their efforts all across Joplin, while Earth 5 will be helping Rebuild Joplin, a non-profit organization founded in the immediate aftermath of the tornado.

Earth 3 will be working on a number of tasks, including processing volunteer data, planting trees, clearing debris, laying sod, restoring homes, and many other recovery efforts that may arise as needed. Earth 5 will be taking on casework loads, working directly with tornado survivors in need of assistance, and helping with recovery efforts similar to the ones Earth 3 will be handling.

“I’ve been blown away by the damage I’ve seen since we’ve gotten here,” expressed Robert Barbour, a corps member in Earth 3. “But seeing how much has already been accomplished in helping Joplin recover only pushes me to work harder to assist this community.” Indeed, over 150 AmeriCorps NCCC members already have assisted in disaster relief efforts this year, with more to follow. The AmeriCorps St. Louis ERT works on both conservation and disaster service projects in Missouri, Illinois, and Montana, and works in partnership with many other organizations including the US Forest Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and the National Parks Service. After the Joplin tornado, the AmeriCorps St. Louis ERT was on the scene within 10 hours and consistently has been in the top tier of exemplary and demonstrable AmeriCorps programs that receives federal funding.

Rebuild Joplin, formed just days after the Joplin tornado, was founded by a group of local community leaders led by Jerrod Hogan, the president of the board of Joplin's Bright Futures. The goal of Rebuild Joplin is to connect tornado survivors with an overwhelming amount of resources that have come in from both the local community and all over the nation, essentially serving as a “one-stop shop” for disaster recovery.

Rebuild Joplin has recently partnered with the St. Bernard Project of New Orleans, a tremendously successful program that has rebuilt hundreds of homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Rebuild Joplin hopes to emulate the St. Bernard Project’s model of success in placing families back in their homes and fostering a return to normalcy.

AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, residential, national service program in which 1,200 young adults serve nationwide each year. During their 10-month term, Corps Members – all 18 to 24 years old – work on teams of eight to 12 on projects that address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development.

Members work on a series of different projects, typically lasting six to eight weeks each, to mentor students, construct and rehabilitate low-income housing, respond to natural disasters, clean up streams, help communities develop emergency plans, and address countless other local needs. The Southwest Region campus in Denver is one of five regional hubs in the United States that serves eight states.

In exchange for their service, corps members receive $5,550 to help pay for college, or to pay back existing student loans. Other benefits include a small living stipend, room and board, leadership development, increased self-confidence, and the knowledge that, through active citizenship, people can indeed make a difference. AmeriCorps NCCC is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. For more information about AmeriCorps NCCC, go here.

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