Eight months ago, one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history touched down in Joplin, Missouri, and took the lives of more than 160 residents and destroyed thousands of homes. The federal response began immediately. Within hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency teams were on the ground to work hand in hand with state and local officials to assist in response and recovery. AmeriCorps members also raced to the scene as well. Members from AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team and the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) arrived in Joplin, and immediately began working with local authorities to assist in search and rescue.
Yesterday, the Missouri House of Representative passed a bipartisan resolution honoring the more than 300 AmeriCorps members from across the country who have played an indispensable role in helping the cities of Joplin and Duquesne recover. They provided homeowner assistance and casework, helped clear debris, and provided support to the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Joplin Police Department with missing person inquiries.
But these AmeriCorps members were certainly not alone. More than 60,000 volunteers ranging from average citizens who wanted to help to active duty military to faith-based groups from across the country have been an indispensable source of support for the people of Joplin. Managed and supported by AmeriCorps members, these volunteers have provided more than 579,000 hours of service and contributed to $17.7 million of donated resources to more than 2,000 households.
AmeriCorps members continue to provide services to the people of Joplin and Duquesne. This Administration remains deeply committed to supporting the town’s long-term recovery. This week, the Corporation for National and Community Service announced that it is committing more than 30 additional AmeriCorps members to serve in Joplin over the coming year to help rebuild the community.
Since President Obama took office, he has said that this is an “All Hands on Deck” moment, a time for people to come together regardless of their differences to strengthen our country. In Joplin, we can see how service can unite Americans from all walks of life and serve as a pathway for opportunity, offering a case study of what can be accomplish through the power of community.
Cecilia Muñoz is the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.