Guess who’s back, back again, Vero’s back, tell a friend! So yes ladies and gentlemen, I am back for a second year of AmeriCorps, preparedness, and Team Firestopper. This year has already been adjustments all around. I had to say good bye to coworkers who made up the preparedness team and my AmeriCorps team. I have welcomed five new AmeriCorps members to our team; two of which I share a cubicle with, and welcomed a new boss. All these changes would be enough to drive Sheldon crazy, but not me! Let me explain these changes.
Change #1: five completely different personalities, than Thing 1 and Thing 3 (yes Dr. Seuss reference) from last year, came into my world. At first meeting, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get along with them. This AmeriBunch, as I like to call the whole group, they’re a great group. They go from the theatrical to the “let’s get down to business” types. When it’s fun time, we laugh and dance our time away, and business time, we get things done.
Change #2: What I call, the ol’ Switch-a-roo. My boss Alex was called to duty at Red Cross HQ, which meant he had to leave the AmeriBunch in someone else’s hands. To be honest, I was worried and anxious and scared, I was becoming Sheldon (again with the Big Bang Theory reference), but then I found out Amy would take over. As excited as I was, I was worried. How was she going to help me with Change #3?! It’s been two months, it’s been all about transition, but all is well with the AmeriBunch.
So Change #3, well, this actually began during last term. Part of my assignment as AmeriCorps was to cover bilingual presentations, events and media. As time went on, we realized the Latino community that was not fully being reached. We would hear that many of our Spanish speaking emergency clients would deny Red Cross assistance. We then wondered if this was because of a language barrier and/or misinformation on how the American Red Cross can help our Latino communities. We know many have a misconception of the American Red Cross. It was almost distrust, a feeling that we would not help them because they did not have proper credentials or their citizenship was questionable. I understood, how not knowing if an organization would help, could feel and I felt that we should do something to break this barrier.
From this desire to help our Latino communities was the creation of our Latino Community Preparedness program. This program is designed to inform these communities on how they can prepare for any emergency, and how they can help save a life. It is completely focused on Latino (Spanish speaking) communities throughout the Central Valley and Kern counties. I am also hoping to grow our bilingual speaking volunteers and encourage them to gain experience from this program. A future, personal goal is to have this grow not only with Latino community, but also with other cultures with language barriers. I am bilingual in English and Spanish, but if I can encourage those who are bilingual in other languages, this program can grow and we can help more communities.
I’m sure from other blogs written by the AmeriBunch, you were expecting to read on how to prepare for some emergency, but I felt like I needed to share my experience coming into a 2nd term of AmeriCorps and having things flip. I knew I was ready for the changes and as scary as they seemed; they were actually very exciting. Cheers to the next 8 months!