Monthly Archives: May 2013

Random Things I Would Bring to FEMA Corps

This isn’t a must-have list, it’s more of a “here’s some things I’m glad I had, or wish I had brought” list:

– Tupperware: So many leftovers, so few containers. Also, on this measly budget, who wants to pay for sandwich bags? (And any form of Tupperware is more environmentally friendly than disposable bags. Just sayin.)
– Fork, Spoon, and Knife: While you are supplied silverware and dishes as a team, it’s nice to have your own set when the team’s forks mysteriously disappear. (Also, this can relieve you of a huge load of environmental guilt if you avoid using plastic.)
– Neck Pillow (and/or Tiny Pillow): If you can live without a big pillow, you’ll save a lot of precious space in the van. Thanks to my lovely Mother, I have an Eagle Creek inflatable neck pillow and a small microfiber pillow. If I’m smart about it, I can fit both in my sleeping bag.
– Basic Sheet Set: While a sleeping bag is provided, this was the first thing most people bought when we arrived in Vinton. Between the heat and old mattresses, sheets are a luxury.
– Small Sleeping Bag: Definitely something you can do without, the sleeping bags provided do a wonderful job. However, I am insanely jealous of my teammate who brought a tiny little sleeping bag and doesn’t have to lug around the giant green one. And again, more space in the van!!!
– Auxiliary Cord: Depending on the van, an Aux Cord can be a lifesaver. You’ll be the favorite teammate if you provide the ability to play IPod music in the van, and give everyone a break from the radio.
– HDMI Cord: Watching movies on tiny little laptops is just no fun. Again, because the favorite teammate, and corps member, if you have an HDMI cord to share.
– Pocket Knife: This is something that everybody thought of, but me. And I am constantly borrowing my teammates pocket knife. Just make sure the blade isn’t too long, don’t want to conflict with policy.

I’m sure there’s more for the list, but this is just what’s on my mind so far. I’ll update if I think of anything else. 🙂

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En Attendant l’Orage

Written May 19th

This week has been pretty uneventful. We’ve been struggling to find enough work. With atleast 12 able FEMA Corps looking for work, anything we find doesn’t last long.
Outside of work, the weather has been beautiful. I’ve tried to spend as much time outside as possible, especially if somebody starts a fire.
Yesterday, the team took a trip to the “beach.” Previous to this trip, there had been an ongoing team arguement as to whether beaches could exist off the coast. After our trip yesterday, my answer is no. While I had a great time, I cannot support the suggestion that a plot of muddy land along a lake could be a beach, and I’m pretty sure the sand was imported there.
Next weekend will be my last weekend in Kansas City. I’ll be sad to leave, but I’m excited because then I will be one step closer to going home. There are still plenty of places that I wish I had seen, but I’ve accepted that you can’t see everything, especially when living in a group.

Update May 20th

Last night the region around me experienced severe thunderstorms and tornados. Luckily, I live in a valley, so we sat on the porch watching the sky change, enjoying the rain and lightning show. Hopefully, tonight’s storm won’t be as impressive.

FEMA Corps Lessons

FEMA Corps Lessons – Brought to you by 1001 Useful French Words
1. Ajouter to add La valise est faite et je ne peux rien ajouter. The suitcase is packed and I cannot add anything.
While traveling, we live out of “red bags” which are big, bulky backpacks. When I started, there was never enough room in my red bag. Now, I’m far to comfortable wearing the same clothes every day, and I find myself sending more and more clothes home.
2. Alors so, then, at the time Alors, nous étions jeunes et forts. At that time, we were young and strong.
Before Sandy hit, we were all excited to start this new program, eager to work and see what awaited. Now, we’re happy we have work, but pretty jaded about the program. I’m mostly excited that by being guinea pigs in the fall, other’s will have an amazing FEMA Corps experience.
3. Améliorer to improve Pour améliorer la situation, il faut travailler plus dur. To improve the situation, we must work harder.
To improve the situation, we must work harder, document everything that happens, and give lots and lots of constructive critism. Nothing will change if all you do is complain.
4. Apporter to bring N’apportez pas trop de vêtements quand vous voyagez. Don’t bring too much clothing when you travel.
You’re living with people for ten months. They will see you at your worst. They do not care one smidgen if you spend those ten months in the same outfits, or if you wear those outfits almost every day. Anything that is not FEMA blue will be much appreciated.
5. Apprendre to learn On apprend beaucoup en voyageant. We learn a lot while traveling.
Like, how to pack a 15 passenger van with 12 red bags, 12 sleeping bags, 12 laptops in their cases, 12 personal backpacks, 12 helmets, various food items, paperwork, and random boxes.
6. Aucun(e) none Aucune des chambres n’est prête. None of the rooms is ready.
None of the rooms are ready, none of the teams have assignments, nobody has a clue where they are going. I’m completely ok with this now, and I’m not sure if that is a good thing.

Raining Cats and Dogs

Since last blogging I have:

– Visited the World War I Museum: This museum was amazing. The exhibits were extremely well done, with multiple formats to keep your attention. I think my favorite part was these little rooms, where you could sit and listen to the music, literature, and important speeches of the time. The museum also included a viewing tower, so we got to check out Kansas City from the air (fyi, KC is much more impressive from the ground, where you can pretend it’s a big city.) All the volunteers were extremely helpful, teaching us not only about WWI but also about the history of the museum. I would highly recommend this museum; WWI often gets forgotten for WWII, this museum was a great way to learn about an overlooked period. (Bonus, if you go the first weekend of the month, the museum is free with a Bank of America card.)

– Went to a Chihuahua Parade: Hundreds of dogs in the middle of KC trying to break the record of “most dogs in costume.” I got a pet so many dogs and saw some amazing costumes, best day ever!

– Went to the SPCA a second time: We decided that “petting cats” could count as a wellness activity. So, we got service hours for some serious distressing with some adorable cats. I found one I wanted to take home, his name is Philip, he’s one year old, looks like my old cat, and his description says he’s “a gentleman”.

– Completed my 1700 hours of required service! And I only have 11 more days of work left! I can’t believe we’re at the end, so glad I’m finishing in Kansas City!

Team Articles

Also, if you want a look at what my team has been up to, here are two articles.

NCCC-FEMA Corps cleans up Hudson riverbank
http://www.vintoniowa.org/articles/Et+cetera/article108953.html

FEMA Corps Team Pine 4 Spends a Day in the Garden
http://www.vintoniowa.org/articles/Et+cetera/article109205.html

Tr : Adventures in the Wilds of Missouri

Hey everybody,
A few updates since my last post.
First off, thank you so much to everybody who donated to my EarthWalk! My team raised over $200!
Secondly, I’ve moved! From Kansas to Missouri, about a half hour drive. We’re still working in the same office, with the same work. However, no we are not living in an Extended Stay; instead, we are living in a 382 acre camp. There are three teams in one house, with about 6 people to a room (the boys have the worst with 8). Each room has its own bathroom and shower, but we have to share a kitchen. The camp is beautiful; there are loads of trails, hidden treasures, and horseback riding. There are also snakes, ticks, no cable, no wifi, and no Verizon cell service. (So, if you absolutely need to get in touch with me, call my parents, they have my work number which is AT&T.)
I’m enjoying living at the camp, as it’s forced me to slow down, relax, and do a lot of reading. Yesterday however, the camp was not on my good list. We work up to rain and cold weather. Got into our van, Musty, and discovered that we were stuck in the mud. So, we all got out of the van, she still wouldn’t budge. So, we pushed, got her going, and only got slightly covered in mud. Now I can safely say that I’ve pushed a 15 passenger van out of the mud, I’d like to keep that as a once in a lifetime experience. That wasn’t the end of the fun, as last night, May 2nd, it snowed. A day or two before that, it was in the high 70s and sunny. Kansas/Missouri is more confused about weather than New England!
Other fun adventures since my last post:
– Went to a Royals game, and they won! They have a beautiful stadium, with fountains. I must say, even if Kansas City is “the city of fountains”, I think having them at a baseball stadium is excessive.
– Volunteered at the Great Plains SPCA. We arrived expecting to help out by moving furniture, then we were told we would help clean and do laundry, and then we found out we would actually spend the hour petting cats! Best day ever! (Also, the Great Plains SPCA is the most impressive animal shelter that any of us had ever seen. They go to great lengths to ensure that each animal is comfortable and on the road to going to a loving home.)
– Volunteered at Hillcrest Transitional Housing. We helped work on a basement renovation and deep cleaned an apartment. I love this organization, they have a wonderful staff, an amazing mission, and I wish we had time to do more projects with them.
That’s all I have for today. I will try and keep this up, but with the lack of cell-service, it’s not a guarantee. (As it is, my personal computer is currently broken, and my government computer does not allow me to post. So, I have to write the post, email it to myself, and then use the wordpress email post function in order to update my blog. Not the smoothest of methods, but it works.)
Hope everyone is having a wonderful spring, and that the snow stays away from wherever you are. J