AmeriCorps: Getting Things Done

NEW YORK – “Brooklyn is my home,” said AmeriCorps volunteer Rachel Gordon. “It’s good to be helping out.”

Gordon is one of more than 1,000 AmeriCorps members working with the Red Cross get food and supplies to the thousands of families and individuals those affected by Hurricane Sandy across many states.

“Red Cross workers just won’t stop working,” said Gordon, who is managing a Red Cross disaster supplies distribution center in Brighton Beach, on Brooklyn’s hard hit south shore. “It’s as if they cannot do enough.”

AmeriCorps members typically commit to a year of service with non-profits, public agencies, and faith-based organizations. Their pledge ends with the words, “I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.”

In that spirit, Gordon knew she could rely on her AmeriCorps teammates to pitch in wherever needed. When a convoy of trucks needed to b e unloading at another supply site, for example, she sent most of her workers. She also recruited a New Yorker neighbor, Simon Fischweicher, to pitch in.

“My neighborhood was hit, but I was OK, so I just wanted to help others,” said Fischweicher, who lost power at his apartment on the lower east side of Manhattan.
“It feels good to help those in need,” he said. “It’s very self-fulfilling.”

In partnership with the Red Cross, AmeriCorps members focus on helping communities prepare for emergencies of all kinds. When disaster does strike, they are Red Cross-trained to respond locally or across the country. And after the emergency phase, they bolster the ability of communities to sustain and restore themselves.

In return for their service, members receive a living allowance and money toward college or graduate school. Gordon, who joined AmeriCorps in January 2012, plans to earn her a master’s degree in social work.

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