I should have been blogging all along but I've been so busy loving life that I've neglected all my blog responsibilities. Goodness, so much has happened and I'm limited on time. I'll see what i can churn out. By the way, we were inducted as official members of AmeriCorps NCCC members last Friday. I want to write about how great the ceremony and speakers were, but maybe later when I have more time.

I was all sorts of psyched for my spike project; we have been preparing ourselves for this for weeks. My team, Eagle 4, had our "briefing" today, presenting our project research to staff and leaders. Within our regular teams we each have specialty roles, and mine are:

  • CAP (Corps Ambassador Program) Representative, essentially a cheerleader for NCCC. My job is to get out there and let people know how great this program is and find recruits to join us in future years. New campuses will be opening this year, Iowa in July and Mississippi in January, in addition to the 3 regular campuses ( Sacramento and Denver are fall campuses, and Perry Point a winter campus), so we need thousands of applicants. They have extended the app deadline for summer and fall to April 15, so if you know anyone ages 18-24, or anyone that will be 18-24 in the next year, let them know about NCCC and get them in contact with me. This program is AMAZING. Anyhow, while in Biloxi we will be leading groups of Spring Break volunteers and I was psyched to tell them all about NCCC...
  • Community Council Rep, an information link between team members and staff back here at the point. I will have reviews with my team about concerns, suggestions and positive reviews of what we're doing in NCCC. Sometimes we feel our voice is lost between all the levels of the ladder and this is our way to interact with out region director.
I've learned a lot about our project in the last couple weeks. The areas in which our team will serve include:
  • Construction: All the good stuff like dry wall, tiling, roofing, etc, with an emphasis on volunteer management. Hands on will be inundated with spring break volunteers so we will be leading teams.
  • Education: A couple team members will work in schools as Teach Aides, in after school programs, and other areas as well.
  • Green Space Development: A couple team members will work on parks, trails, and community gardens.
  • Site Needs: Staffing front desk, kitchen work, helping manage tracking of volunteers, etc.
In all, everyone has leadership roles in Biloxi during such a crazy time.

BUT, I'm not going to be in Biloxi until March 26. My team is leaving in the morning for a road trip and will begin work on Monday, and that was my plan too until Noon today. Chris Quaka, the Wolf Unit Leader in charge of the fire program informed me and Christian (an Eagle 4 teammate of mine) that we were chosen for the first deployment of fire fighters. My heart jumped up into my throat: I was not expecting this at all because of some logistics and the excitement of it all made my stomach churn and heart race. FIRE!

A little background on fire info: We began the fire fighting process our third day at Perry Point, participating in the Pack Test as our qualification test. We had to walk (no running!) 3 miles with a 45 pound pack in less than 45 minutes. Over 80 people attempted, and nearly 80 passed. The fire program at Perry Point is limited and only 45 corps members were chosen to receive training as Federal Wildland Firefighters. And, I was one.

After induction last week we got ourselves pumped and excited for firefighter training. We gave up our weekend for in-depth training as Wildland Firefighters, learning a lot in a short period of time. We have our red cards now and are able to deployed, and at the end of our training we found out an initial team of 10 would be deployed on the same day teams were departing for spike projects. I shrugged off the possibility for myself, thinking that because I lacked certain equipment and because I was being stationed in Biloxi, MS that I would NOT be chosen for the first deployment. I was wrong. When we walked out of our debrief Chris Quaka grabbed us and our Team Leader Yvonne, and pulled us into a room telling me and Christian and that we were being deployed if we would agree with it. He then went farther, saying that we came into this fire team under the highest recommendations from our TL and based on his experiences with the two of us, he wanted us to take on the roles of Team Leader (TL) and Assistant Team Leader (ATL) for this deployment of fire crew. To chose, Christian and I drew names for the positions and I am the ATL for our deployment to Blackwater Refuge. How exciting! My responsibilities are minimal at this point; I am Christian's right hand person and as time goes on I'll see what I'm going to do. I will be driving the truck with all our equipment down there and while there I will oversee our food situation, watching our funds and getting grocery shopping taken care of. I will also facilitate communication between fire members and their respective teams. We found that even during our 5 days away for training we really fell out of the loop and I want us to try and maintain open lines and keep updated on what our teams are doing while we're gone. It's important that when we return to our teams we don't feel like a lesser part because we were gone. These first couple weeks as a regular team are crucial for bonding: it's the first road trip together, the first stressful weeks of a first spike project, probably our first real disagreements and bumps in the road, and it's the time we really start getting to know each other. But we won't be there for that, we will be having separate experiences are fire crew. We were warned about this, that there was potential to not bond with our team to the extent that we would as regular team members.

Also, Perry Point will have a composite team 3rd round (third project time) where a group of 10 or 12 fire fighters will pull out from their teams and spend an entire project on fire, possibly becoming type 1 hand crew (right now we are type 2, more explanation later). Chris recommended to us that we seriously consider applying for this because as fire deployment we are at a greater advantage with the extra training we will receive these next couple weeks at Blackwater. He also said that we may find ourselves in positions leading other fire teams and helping with their additional training throughout the year. I'm pumped.

But, I am a little sad. I'm leaving my team I was so excited to be with, I'm leaving my roommates, and I'm leaving my AmeriCrush, all in one day. It was impossible to imagine developing such great friendships with these people so early on.

If you know me, you know about my passion for life. As impossible as it seems, I love my life even more now than I did 6 months ago. I'm bursting at the seams with joy and gratitude for all that I have. Thank you AmeriCorps NCCC.

PS. My last day off was Feb. 24. Fire deployments are 14 days straight, and because of training last week and travel time, my next day off will be March 24. I am forfeiting my spring break for this. I'm so hardcore. AmeriCorps=Hardcorps. hahaha


  1. Umm - Did I miss the post about your AmeriCrush? Come on, spill.

  2. you are so hardcore! i love it and i love you. we miss you. keep blogging whenever you can. you are amazing.


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