The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

September 15, 2012

Joplin High School graduate joins first FEMA Corps class

JOPLIN, Mo. — Mariah Hutchinson, a 2012 graduate of Joplin High School, was inducted on Thursday into the nation’s first class of the FEMA Corps, a partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“It was very exciting for me,” Hutchinson said by telephone Saturday of the induction ceremony, which took place in Vicksburg, Miss.

FEMA Corps, a new unit within the existing AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, is designed to enhance disaster response and recovery. Its members are young adults, ages 18 to 24, who devote 10 months of full-time service to the organization. After completing 1,700 hours of service, they will receive a $5,550 award to use for college tuition or student loans.

Hutchinson was the only member of the 240-person class to speak at a press conference Thursday announcing the inductees, where she said she received a standing ovation. She spoke of what had prompted her to join the organization in the first place — seeing AmeriCorps members assisting in Joplin following the May 22, 2011, tornado.

“I want to give back to other communities like they have done for me,” she said in her prepared remarks. “When everything was gone, and I felt like I had nothing left, people were there, giving me hope, confidence and faith that everything will be OK. They were giving up their personal time to be that one smile, that one person, that one positive thing not only to make a difference, but to leave an everlasting impact. I want to be that person for someone else.”

The federal government declared a record 99 disasters in 2011, and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino developed FEMA Corps following the EF-5 tornado that devastated Joplin.

“The work that you are going to do is absolutely critical, absolutely essential to help the survivors,” Serino told FEMA Corps inductees Thursday.

The induction ceremony marked the end of one month of training for FEMA Corps members through AmeriCorps. Hutchinson and her peers on Saturday were at the Fort McClellan Disaster Preparedness Center in Anniston, Ala., preparing to begin two weeks of FEMA training specific to their assigned positions.

Hutchinson said she will receive training to become a community relations specialist, and will be among the first FEMA Corps members to arrive in an area after a disaster has struck.

“We will be the people who go door-to-door and ask people what they need and how we can help and basically try to point them to the right direction to get them help,” she said. “It’s a lot of assessing and being the first eyes and ears that they see when they do need help.”

Hutchinson said she was placed in the community relations specialty, her first choice, based on her experiences in Joplin after the tornado.

“I worked in the disaster recovery center at Ignite Church and did a lot of one-on-one work with disaster survivors there,” she said. “Basically, I just did a lot of helping in Joplin, and I realized that’s what I love doing.”

Training will wrap up by Sept. 30, at which point FEMA Corps members will be deployed to their first assignments to assist FEMA’s existing work force in areas affected by disaster.

“It’s all moving really fast,” Hutchinson said. “I’m very ready. I’m very excited.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Stations

Members of FEMA Corps will be based at one of five AmeriCorps campuses across the country: Sacramento, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Vinton, Iowa; Perry Point, Md.; and Vicksburg, Miss.

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Enrollment open for Joplin summer school

    Enrollment is now open for the Joplin school district’s summer school session, which will run Wednesday, June 4, though Tuesday, July 1.

    April 19, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Britain Easter Pilgri_Cast.jpg SLIDESHOW: Good Friday observances around the world Around the world, Christians are coming together in observance of Good Friday, which they believe was the day Jesus was crucified. Here are some photos from Good Friday commemorations around the world.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missouri House votes to expand sales tax exemptions

    Pizza parlors, doughnut shops and even convenience stores all could be in line for a tax break on the food that they make and sell as a result of a measure moving through the Missouri Legislature.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos