Thursday, January 30, 2014

Vero's AmeriCorps Adventures

Vero’s log January 2014:

It’s been weeks since I have written. I have been out amongst the people observing them and having adventures. I found myself in a small city called Merced; I was there quite a bit this month. I actually spent time in the even smaller town of Winton, where the school district allowed me to enter some of their schools to teach some of their younger students fire safety. I presented them with our Kid Firestopper activity, and these kids surprised me with their smarts. At the end of the participation, I was able to reward 8 students with a new backpack they can use for an emergency kit.  I left with the confidence that they will encourage their parents to be safe during a fire. I did have a chance to interact with some parents of early head start children; encouraging them to begin fire safety plans was not difficult. I spoke with one mother who told me a story about her oven catching on fire, she grabbed her babies and left them at the neighbors, but my concern came when she told me she returned to the fire. This had me thinking, will there ever be a way to make parents, or any adult, understand…GET OUT AND STAY OUT? This young mother was lucky, she was able to use her fire extinguisher and put out the fire.  

To continue my adventures in Merced; I had a chance to bring them our Team Firestopper canvassing project. For MLK day, a day of service across the nation, we took to the streets of Merced and provided the communities with fire safety information. We were able to bring in 46 volunteers to come out and spread the word. We had some amazing volunteers, I don’t even know if they realize how thankful I am for their help. We had Alpha Phi Omega, Delta Gamma, Merced Red Cross Club, Rollin Roulette’s Derby Girls, Mc Swain 4H, Merced County 4H, United Way, our own Red Cross volunteers, Atwater Circle K, friends and family come out. Special thanks go out to Merced Fire’s own R. Ramirez, K. Albrecht, and B. Alcorn. Although these men have busy days, they took the time out to participate in our event and even speak to our volunteers.  Our day was a success; we reached out to 2000 homes, so THANK YOU to all who helped!

My last adventure brought me back to Fresno. I was able to conduct our first Hispanic Outreach. In the beginning of this month, I recorded a spot on Univision encouraging our Hispanic community to come and participate in a Team Firestopper presentation. It was an experience for me because I conducted it all in Spanish. Anyone who knows me knows I have pride in my culture; bringing this information to our Spanish speaking communities has been a goal of mine. The response of our participants was that of gratitude. They were encouraging me to continue the good work, and continue pushing the Red Cross’ mission into our Hispanic communities. My Spanish may be shaky when I’m nervous, but the message got through, and my guests made me feel confident. Almost brings a tear to my eye.

Readers, I hope you don’t mind if I continue to update you on my adventures. My interactions, my volunteer’s interactions, and even my co-worker’s interactions with our communities is where we can truly see the impact our work is having. I know I can’t do what I do without the help of my co-workers, my volunteers, and the community. So I leave you now with this warning...LOOK OUT! Kid Firestopper and Team Firestopper: Hispanic Outreach is coming to a location near you!

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