VINTON, Iowa - Two-hundred thirty young adults from across the nation will be sworn in as members of FEMA Corps at an induction ceremony in Iowa today, providing a boost to the nation's ability to assist disaster survivors while expanding career opportunities for young people.
FEMA Corps is an innovative partnership between two federal agencies that combines the disaster expertise of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with the service leadership of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and AmeriCorps.
Following a record-breaking year for federally declared disasters in 2011, FEMA Corps was created to enhance the nation's disaster response and recovery capacity, increase the reliability of the disaster workforce, and provide a pathway for young people to enter the emergency management profession.
Established as a new unit within the existing AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), FEMA Corps engages young adults ages 18 to 24 to provide ten months of full-time service on disaster response and recovery projects.
The 230 FEMA Corps members being inducted today at AmeriCorps NCCC's Vinton campus join a similar-sized class sworn in two weeks ago in Vicksburg, Miss., making for an initial corps size of 460 members.
U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, and CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer, will participate in today's induction ceremony at the AmeriCorps NCCC campus in Vinton to thank members for their commitment and challenge them for the important work ahead.
"In August of 2008, I had the honor of addressing the very first class of NCCC members at what was then the brand-new Vinton campus. That spring and summer, Iowa had been hit by relentless downpours, floods of biblical proportions, and disastrous tornadoes. To have that influx of NCCC members, at that time of dire need, was truly a godsend," said Harkin, who chairs the Senate appropriations panel that funds AmeriCorps and was integral in bringing NCCC to Iowa. "Serving others and giving back to our communities are some of the most important things we can do as American citizens. I commend each member of this new class today and I thank them for their service."
"When I visit communities devastated by disasters like Joplin, Mo., I always find members of AmeriCorps lending a helping hand to survivors," said Serino. "Today's inductees are pioneers - combining the exceptional record of citizen service at AmeriCorps NCCC with FEMA's specialized mission of supporting survivors with their recovery after a disaster. I commend and thank every member of the inaugural class of FEMA Corps for their dedication to helping communities in need."
"I commend you for answering the call to serve and making a difference for people and communities in need," said Spencer. "As members of the first FEMA Corps class, you are writing a new chapter in the history of national service. You will bring much-needed hope and assistance to disasters survivors at their time of greatest need. As you help others, this year will help you - giving you skills, expanding your opportunities, and setting you on a lifelong path of service to others."
Today's induction ceremony marked the end of one month of AmeriCorps NCCC training and the start of FEMA position-specific training. After completing training, members will be deployed to their first assignments, which can range from working directly with disaster survivors to supporting disaster recovery centers to sharing disaster response and mitigation information with the public.
Some teams are expected to be deployed to the Gulf Coast to respond to recent hurricanes and flooding. FEMA Corps will supplement FEMA's existing Reservist workforce in assisting citizens and communities who have been impacted by disasters.
After completing 1,700 hour of service, FEMA Corps members will receive a $5,550 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to pay for tuition or pay student loans. Members will gain significant training and experience in disaster services that can serve as a pathway to employment in the emergency management profession.
FEMA Corps members will be based out of five AmeriCorps NCCC campuses across the country: Sacramento, CA; Denver, CO; Vinton, IA; Perry Point, MD; and, Vicksburg, MS.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than four million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and other programs, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.