FEMA Corps in Action: Andrea Cardona Shares Her Story

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Andrea Cardona, FEMA Corps Member

Andrea Cardona shares her experience serving as a FEMA Corps member.

When I was 10 years old my house caught on fire. Despite losing my home, I was profoundly impacted by the kindness and compassion of many strangers that came to offer us clothes, blankets and even their homes.

Those acts of kindness, solidarity and compassion instilled in me a profound desire to help others.

Seeing so many unprecedented natural disasters in the last couple of years — the wildfires in California, and back-to-back hurricanes on top of the new complications of the Covid-19 pandemic — I felt called to be a part of the solution. I had no idea what I was signing up for when I joined FEMA Corps because I hardly knew anything about FEMA; I just knew that I would be in a place to help.

As a FEMA Corps member, I have had the opportunity to gain valuable experience. I have been able to develop professionally by working on a variety of projects, serving diverse communities alongside amazing people from all walks of life.

My first project was at the Personnel Mobilization Center (PMC), where I supported the vaccination mission by ensuring responders processing through the PMC had everything they needed before going out on the field.

My team virtually assisted Puerto Rico disaster preparedness by researching, revising and editing a variety of documents and crucial information that will be used in future disasters.

By far the most rewarding work I’ve done this year has been working with the Disaster Survivor Assistance teams in Louisiana in response to Hurricane Ida. I may not have changed the disaster survivors’ situation, but I hope I  made a difference in their experience by being a caring and compassionate listener. I’m honored and thankful to have been able to pay forward the good I received long ago through my FEMA Corps service year.

One of the greatest takeaways from my overall experience is that there’s no small task; every job is important and needs to be done right. No single department or position is more important than the other, because everyone plays a crucial part to ensure the success of the overall mission at hand.

Visit the FEMA Corps program page to learn more about the program, visit the AmeriCorps website to apply.

Last updated November 24, 2021