Today marks the beginning of my fourth month in the National Preparedness and Response Corps. As I look back on the last three months, I cannot help but think how much I have grown in such a short period of time.
The most obvious reason for this personal change is that I have been given real responsibilities that truly affect lives. The presentations I conduct and community service events I attend help prepare families for the unthinkable. Beyond that, I have become disciplined and efficient in coordinating events, networking, and fulfilling the various missions of the American Red Cross and I attribute all of this experience to the NPRC and AmeriCorps. For these reasons alone, I am grateful to be in this field.
Yesterday, the outlook of my job and my job itself completely changed. I responded to my first Disaster Action Team call, which was a home fire. The only things that the couple saved were her wedding dress (coincidentally, today is their anniversary) and a bible. Another DAT member and I did a damage assessment but it didn’t take too long to conclude that it was a total-loss scenario.
You read the articles, you hear the stories, you think “how sad” and you go about your day. This is the way I thought too but it was only yesterday, when I saw it with my own eyes as it was happening that this corps has enabled me to help those on what could very well be the worst day of anyone’s life.
When they were leaving, the man stuck out his ash and soot covered hand and shook mine. “Thank you,” he said. That was the only payment I could have asked for.
My service is far from over, but I have learned so much since August and I cannot wait to see how the NPRC will help me in the future.
Amitai "Tai" S. Zuckerman
American Red Cross – Tulare and Kings Counties
AmeriCorps NPRC Member 2013-2014
Community Preparedness and Resilience Services