FEMA Public Affairs Specialist Wesley A. Lagenour shares how FEMA employees across the agency are passionate about public and community service.
FEMA’s mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. Service to others is the foundation of our mission and continues to be a close, personal conviction that we carry every day — often beyond our roles and duties as emergency managers.
Hundreds of FEMA employees are alumni of public and community service programs. Many of these alumni have served thousands of hours for organizations such as AmeriCorps and Peace Corps.
Sharing this passion for community and public service inspired nearly 300 FEMA employees to create the National Service Alumni FEMA Employee Resource Group (NSA FERG), a group dedicated to fostering service and volunteerism at FEMA.
How do we define community and public service?
FEMA Program Analyst and NSA FERG member Jenna Nelson describes service as, “Doing your part to contribute to the greater good and improvements in the world — no matter how small or localized that positive change may be.”
For FEMA Executive Assistant and NSA FERG member Amy Singer, service means “devoting my time and talents to make a positive change.”
Amy Singer is a FEMA Corps alum.
“While I was in FEMA Corps, I traveled to the West Coast and tutored students in school, assisted with the construction of homes and grew food in a community garden,” says Singer. “The most impactful experience for me was assisting a wildlife center where we built animal enclosures and made the center more resilient to wildfires. Understanding what went into wildfire prevention and recovery after a wildfire were things I had never considered before.”
Singer’s experience in FEMA Corps is just one example of what translates from public service to federal employment.
FEMA Corps alumni, along with alumni from Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and members of National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters, often find hiring pathways by the agency to continue their service and aid FEMA’s mission.
“I have come to appreciate how my coworkers are driven by the FEMA mission,” said Nelson. “It provides foundational meaning to the work, regardless of your responsibilities. While we all come from different backgrounds with different areas of expertise, we understand that at the core of the work we do, we are helping our fellow Americans.”
For FEMA employees and NSA FERG members, the adage “leave things better than you found them” is one they live by — and their continued work is about making their community a better place.
If you are interested in volunteering with disaster relief efforts, visit the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters website or the Community Emergency Response Teams webpage on Ready.gov.