Tag Archives: homeless

AmeriCorps Members Working Night and Day to Help Joplin Recover

*By Sandy Scott

Joplin, Mo. — In the wake of the nation’s deadliest tornado in six decades, more than 80 AmeriCorps members are working night and day to assist first responders and victims in the recovery efforts in Joplin, Mo.

With the death toll at 126, more than 700 people injured, and thousands of structures destroyed, the EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin last Sunday flattened everything in its path, leaving residents to scramble to find missing family members and find immediate shelter.

AmeriCorps members have traveled from near and far to Joplin to help coordinate relief efforts. Among the first on the ground was a group from the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team, an AmeriCorps program that acts as a multi-functional rapid deployment group that has provided immediate and long-term disaster response to disasters in 29 states over the past 17 years.

As soon as word came of the devastation in Joplin, a team of AmeriCorps St. Louis ERT members packed their equipment and drove through the night to Joplin, arriving at 2:30 a.m. on Monday, not knowing where they would sleep but ready to get to work.

They quickly went into action to open a Missing Persons Hotline for individuals to register a profile of those who have not been accounted for after the deadly tornado. By 5:30 a.m., the AmeriCorps team had set up a 24-hour Missing Persons Hotline with the help of IT staffers at Missouri Southern State University.

Megan MacDougall, an AmeriCorps member who set up and is now overseeing the call center, said thousands of calls have been logged since the hotline opened. Callers give a detailed description of missing family or friends that goes into a database accessible to the Sheriff’s Office, Highway Patrol, Family Assistance Office, and search and rescue teams.  The Missouri Department of Public Safety, which oversees the missing person’s effort, yesterday released a list of 232 individuals for whom an official missing persons report had been filed.

“We’ll stay here until we’re no longer needed,” said MacDougall, who hopes to find a job working on disaster relief when her year in AmeriCorps ends.

AmeriCorps members are also in the community, with teams of AmeriCorps members leading groups of 40-50 volunteers into Joplin to clear roads and debris to ensure first responders can maneuver effectively in search and rescue missions. AmeriCorps members are also registering and managing volunteers, overseeing a donation warehouse, and conducting needs assessments.

Stephanie Jackson, an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team leader from the Denver, is managing the donations warehouse at Missouri Southern State University.  Her team, one of four NCCC teams in Joplin, had been working in St. Louis for the previous three weeks responding to the Good Friday tornado when they were redeployed to Joplin on Monday night.  Jackson said her team got two hours of sleep the night they arrived by didn’t mind as they were eager to get to work.  “We couldn’t wait to get here to help.  It makes me feel alive and I know I am making a difference.”

Twelve AmeriCorps members from Skagit and Yakima counties in Washington State are also serving in Joplin.  These AmeriCorps members, part of the Washington Conservation Corps, were redeployed from St. Louis and are assisting in the distribution center, volunteer intake center, and clean up efforts.

The AmeriCorps members in Joplin are part of a much larger national service response to the devastating floods and tornadoes that have struck the South and the Midwest this spring. Hundreds of AmeriCorps members and RSVP volunteers are serving in Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which oversees AmeriCorps, is working closely with FEMA and state officials in Missouri and other states to effectively use national service resources.  The agency is deploying four staff members to Missouri to provide assistance to deployed AmeriCorps service projects including project development, logistical support, safety assurance, coordination among voluntary agencies, and support in the various federal and inter-agency disaster offices.

“This spring has seen an unprecedented series of disasters for our country. I’m proud our national service participants have put their skills and training to work to provide critical assistance to our fellow Americans who are facing such devastation,” said Kelly DeGraff, senior advisor for disaster services at CNCS.  “AmeriCorps members were on the scene within hours after the tornado struck, and we’ll be there for the long haul.”

Learn more about ways to donate or volunteer to support Joplin by clicking here.  For more information on national service disaster response, visit our Disaster Services webpage.


The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.


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Tornado Damage in Stillwater: Donations Needed

Flag of the Red Cross

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We have had 9 families in Stillwater with affected homes from last nights tornado that went thru on the south side of town.  We are in the process of damage assessment with these homes, and assessing the needs of these local families.  Fed Ex is still going to Joplin, I just met with them, but they are also taking supplies for the Oklahoma tornadoes of last night, and will be taking trucks to OKC Red Cross for distribution.  9 is the preliminary report at this time, and there may be other homes yet to be discovered.  At this time we are taking donations of recovery items for the local families here at our office on 8th.  Examples of items needed are:
  • Bleach
  • Work gloves
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • Brooms
  • Buckets
  • Storage containers
  • Blankets
  • Rakes
  • Salvage Bags
  • Chap stick
  • Bug repellent
  • Sun screen
  • Hammers
  • Nails
  • Water/Gatorade
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Non perishable food
  • Meal vouchers
We also have a shelter open at the Red Cross office here on 8th street, for the victims of last nights storm.  The shelter will be open as long as needed. We are accepting donations for the Stillwater families at our office. Please pass the word.  Thanks. Vicki
Vicki Henington
Executive Director
North Central Oklahoma Chapter
114 West 8th Avenue
Stillwater, OK 74074
Off 405.372.1833
Fax 405.377.5849
Cell 405.780.1327


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Volunteer with PNOLA!

PNOLA (more information here) is based in New Orleans and is dedicated to supporting the

recovery of the residents of Lower Mid-City New Orleans and its surrounding neighborhoods by rebuilding quality affordable housing and developing the community assets necessary for a vital neighborhood.

PNOLA needs volunteers like YOU to get involved. How can you start? Go here!

Mid City New Orleans

Image by Karen Apricot New Orleans via Flickr

Latest news and updates are posted here.


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Disaster Relief for Alabama

We are writing to alert you to the efforts of a group of faculty and students from OSU who are organizing disaster relief for victims of the recent tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  A group will be leaving Stillwater Sunday, May 8 taking needed assistance to Tuscaloosa.  The effort is being organized by Dr. Cynthia Nichols, School of Media and Strategic Communications.

Contact: Cynthia.nichols@okstate.edu or phone 744-8271.  Donations may be made at 108 JB on Campus.  Primary needs are: nonperishable food, baby supplies, and funding to help support transportation of the supplies.

Of course, we also can support the victims of the tornadoes that swept across the southeastern states by making contributions to:

American Red Cross: https://american.redcross.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=ntld_southern_tornadoes

Salvation Army: https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp

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How to Help Alabama

Map of USA with Alabama highlighted

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The Higher Education Service-Learning list serv has compiled several ways to start helping Alabama with the tornado tragedy. Below are some ways. Now, go do something!

Compiled ideas are posted here: http://alabamapossible.org/2011/04/tornado-relief-how-you-can-help/

You can also “like” the Alabama Poverty Project at www.facebook.com/al.possible or follow us @alabamapossible on twitter for further information.

  • In terms of donations, cash is king!  Donations (clothes, food, etc…) are expensive and difficult to transport, sort, and distribute.  Furthermore, when people give money, it assists in rebuilding.  Cash donations allow money to be spent in local communities.  When outside goods are brought in, it hurts local businesses.
  • National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) is a coalition of organizations that respond to disasters.  They have some great information about how to help after a disaster – http://www.nvoad.org/index.php/hth.html.
  • If you are looking to volunteer and are not currently affiliated with any organization doing disaster work, I would encourage you to check out the National Relief Network (www.nrn.org<http://www.nrn.org/>).  They match groups with disaster projects.  In addition to securing work for your group, they arrange housing and meals (which can be very difficult to do if you do not have any relationships in the impacted area).
  • The Alabama Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives also has some great resources on their web page www.servealabama.org<http://www.servealabama.org/>.   In addition to assisting local communities manage volunteers, they also have operate the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, which directly helps residents of Alabama.

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Job: VISTA leader position in Northwestern PA

The Children and Youth AmeriCorps*VISTA Project of Northwestern Pennsylvania is pleased to announce its search for an AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader. The Children and Youth project is a collaborative effort of Allegheny College, Edinboro University, Gannon University, and Mercyhurst College, spanning both Crawford and Erie Counties, which are located in “the chimney” of Pennsylvania. The mission of the project is to reduce poverty for under-served children and youth by mobilizing college students as volunteers in partnering community organizations.

The VISTA Leader will be headquartered at the Nonprofit Partnership in Erie, PA, and will be responsible for supporting approximately 15 VISTA members serving at local non-profit organizations and school districts. The VISTA Leader will support professional development of the VISTA members, and help to guide them in generating resources for their programs. In addition, the VISTA Leader will help to strengthen and shape the project’s Advisory Boards, and will help to design outcomes to measure the project’s impact and effectiveness in reducing poverty for children and youth in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Apply on-line at: http://www.americorps.gov/  (see the “Join AmeriCorps” box on the right–to find the NWPA project, select “Children & Youth” from the first drop down box and PA for state) 

 For more information, please contact:

Erin O’Day-Frye, Project Coordinator

  • Children and Youth AmeriCorps
  • VISTA Project of Northwestern Pennsylvania
  • Allegheny College  
  • 520 North Main Street, Meadville, PA 16335
  • 814-332-5318   
  • eoday@allegheny.edu 


Filed under Internship, National, Service-Learning

Celebrities Go Silent for Charity

Check out this post on how celebrities are giving back to others!


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Coat Collection Drive

The College of Education Student Council at OSU is again joining with Stillwater’s Northside Laundry and Cleaners to collect coats for those in need this winter season.

Coats will be collected at a donation box just outside Willard Hall room 106 the week of Monday, Nov. 15, through Friday, Nov. 19.

Coats for women and children will be donated to the local Domestic Violence Center and coats for men will be donated to the local homeless shelter. Questions? E-mail Shianne Fouts at shiannf@okstate.edu.

Your support is appreciated.

Contact: E-Mail: shiannf@okstate.edu

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Payne County Youth Services Announces Adopt-a-Family Holiday Gift Program

PCYS is trying a new approach to holiday gift giving for clients and families, an Adopt-a-Family Program.  PCYS always receives assistance from various individuals and groups in providing for the youth at the shelter and some clients in the out-patient services.  These gifts and supportive efforts will remain very important to our clients this year and are not being replaced by this initiative.  However, there always seems to be a greater need than there are resources.  

“We were contacted by the Stillwater Public Library who wanted to include us in their postings of possible holiday gift-giving programs,” said Janet Fultz, executive director at PCYS.  “This seemed like such a great opportunity that we quickly settled on a new program to promote.” 

The idea is simple:  any one wishing to donate to the program may contact PCYS regarding the type of donation they would like to make, i.e., the family size, ages they would like to provide for, etc.  Should the donor wish to shop for specific items for a specific family, PCYS staff will gather information about the family such as items wished for, sizes, color preferences, etc., and provide that information to the donor.  “We will match the family with the donor so that all types and amounts of donations may be used to their fullest potential”, said Fultz.  “Due to confidentiality, the donors and the recipients will not be able to meet or be identified to one another, however we will certainly pass along any thanks and feedback we receive.” 

Donations of all types are very important to ensure the services of PCYS!  Individuals may also make financial donations to support the general programming of PCYS in addition or in stead of participating in the new program. 

For more information please contact PCYS at 405-377-3380, visit our web-site at www.pcys.org., or find us on facebook.

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Stillwater Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Contact Information

  • Phone: 405-372-8100
  • Manager: Jennifer Dault
  • Address: 505 E. 18th Street
  • ReStore Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9 am-l pm, Saturday 9 am-l pm 

Volunteer Projects 2010

The Stillwater Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a resale store that financially supports the HfH building projects in Stillwater. Donated items are sold to the public at greatly reduced prices- but to operate the store we need volunteer help from the community.

The following is a list of on-going maintenance projects, special store improvements, operational help, and regular weekly times that assistance is needed. If you have a group that can come for a special project or if you are an individual who could dedicate once a week or once a month, we would love to have you join the Habitat Team. For further information, please contact the ReStore Manager.

Weekly: These projects require at least one 2-hour shift per week per category and can be performed anytime during store hours except for Donation Pick-ups which are only on Tuesdays and Thursdays and require 3 or 6-hour shifts.

  • Home Electronics Testing
  • Appliance Testing
  • E-Bay & Craig’s List Sales
  • Customer sales or cashiering
  • Donation receiving and unloading
  • Minor furniture repair and cleaning
  • Lawn Equipment Repair
  • Break room maintenance
  • Donation cleaning/prepping
  • Sort and separate metal recycling
  • Working on alum can project Donation Pick-ups
  • Store cleaning
  • Staging sales floor
  • Organization of sections in store
  • Recycling Center 

Maintenance Projects:

These projects could be done once a month during store hours by a group of volunteers.

  • Yard Mower and Trimming
  • Building Repairs
  • Window organization
  • Porcelain Garden maintenance 
  • Parking lot maintenance
  • Back Lot Cleaning
  • Organizing door room
  • Paint dumping/can recycling

Special Group Projects:

These projects are typically one or two-day projects that typically two or more individuals. The ReStore will generally provide all the supervision, materials, and tools. These projects can be scheduled to accommodate the groups’ preferred time frame.

  • Deconstruction Projects: remove from house/apt sellable items for the store
  • Parking Lot Completion: place curbs and paint lines, fill hole, level — one day 3-4 hours
  • Build Window Stalls: a two-day project, 3-4 hours each day.
  • Design and build displays for sinks: a team project for engineers?
  • Painting of Store: create Habitat for Humanity-oriented displays
  • Create ReStore Volunteer Board: create a display of volunteers
  • Create SHFH Housing Information board: create a display showing qualifications for housing and incorporate previous SHFH homes and logos
  • Organization of Store: moving display sections.

PLEASE NOTE: Volunteers must be at least 14 years old. Supervision must be provided for volunteers ages 14-15. Typically no special skills are required, unless indicated. Training and assistance are supplied. Waivers and contact information must be filled out before becoming a ReStore Volunteer.

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