By Rachel Wagner, Development and Communications Specialist – August 31, 2018
This month, after a thirty-day deployment to Puerto Rico, our crew of six AmeriCorps members and three staff returned from assisting with ongoing disaster relief. Upon arriving in July, our Conservation Corps crew joined other AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRT) in Puerto Rico including Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC), AmeriCorps St. Louis, and St. Bernard Project. Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa took over operations as the other teams finished their deployments.
The goals of this deployment were to 1) return individuals and families back to safe, sanitary, and secure homes; and 2) support local organizations in their efforts to aid Puerto Rico. The team operated from a recovery office in Guaynabo and at Sacred Heart University in San Juan. Disaster relief activities included developing a registry for high priority cases, referring cases with unmet needs, developing and conducting trainings for local organizations, and providing outreach across the island.
Dillon Pride, a Corps member who returned recently from deployment, said “This is my 3rd deployment and it’s amazing to see how much the AmeriCorps members grow in 30 short days and what an impact we can make in communities. Not only do the people in distress get the help that they desperately need but the AmeriCorps members learn flexibility, teamwork, physical strength, and I believe it also provides an inner strength that pushes our members to strive for bigger and better things once their term is done.”
Take a closer look at some of the projects our crew worked on during their time in Puerto Rico:
One of our Iowa crew members, Audrey Lash, held the position of Public Information Officer for AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams while deployed in Puerto Rico. Along with countless other responsibilities, she was tasked with creating the final edition of a newsletter that has been coming out monthly throughout the deployment. Check it out.
On August 11th, six members of Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa, along with CNCS Disaster Cadre Member, Brie Owades, joined The Mission Continues and their Puerto Rico Service Platoon for a beach clean-up service event in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The Mission Continues is a nationwide non-profit that connects veterans who are adjusting to civilian life and empowers them to find purpose in their communities by providing opportunities for them to get involved. Around thirty total volunteers of all ages and backgrounds spent the day cleaning Playa la Guancha, a sea turtle nesting area, shoreline and surrounding trails. After four hours of service work, the group collected over ten large bags of various trash, including broken glass, litter, and assorted plastics. At the end of the clean-up, all volunteers ate and celebrated together in the nearby plaza.