"I will be completing my fourth year and final year with my beloved AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team. Come September I will be moving to Jefferson City to start a career with the State of Missouri in the Department of Public Safety, focusing on disaster preparedness and response.
It has been nothing short of an amazing four years and no attempt at words of thanks, love, admiration, pride or growth will do it justice. I have met so many incredible people over the years. I have been inspired by those who have lost everything and can still find joy and hope, I have been humbled by the beauty of our forests and the strength of wildfire, and perhaps more then anything I have been forever changed by those people I have served along side.
To my fellow national service members, I Thank You; for helping me become a better person and for giving of yourself so tirelessly. You are what this generation should be known for, open hearts, never ending passion, and a deep dedication to making our country, and the world, better than we found it. So many experiences have shaped my years with the Corps, but none can compare to the smiles, laughs, tears and sweat and we have shared. I could not have asked for more.
To those who have dedicated their lives (government, NGOs and Faith based alike) to helping people recover- you amaze me. I have learned so much from you and look forward to continuing the relationship we have built to continue to serve Missouri and our nation by being a model for disaster preparedness and response.
To the communities and individuals I have served- your strength and perseverance will guide me throughout my life.
Maybe the people I will miss the most are those I have yielded chainsaws beside to tame the never ending cedar or honeysuckle, those I have battled flames with to protect homes, and those who, with so little recognition, continue to fight the fight to respect, conserve and help all enjoy our natural areas. I do not know when our paths will cross again, but I have been forever changed for knowing you. I found friends in very unlikely places with so many of our conservation contacts and I thank you, for being you and the passion you bring to such an important mission.
I have been supported by so many amazing people during this journey, people that sacrificed so much to allow me to follow this passion. I have never thanked you, or apologized to you, for accepting only part of me, because you understood I was only half a person without having an avenue to serve others. My family, friends, and loved ones have all settled for less time and attention from me than they deserved. Thank you for understanding what this necessary journey has meant to me. Thank you for letting me come this far, and thank you for supporting me on the newest chapter of my life.
And to the future, to be honest, you terrify me. But with love by my side, the lessons I have learned and the strength I have been shown- I embrace you. AmeriCorps St. Louis saved me, helped shape me, and now surrenders me. I know this new path, traveled by the person ERT has helped me become, will allow me to continue to serve and have a positive impact on the lives of others. And for that I am eternally grateful." - Quinn Gardner
Quinn Gardner served as a member of the Emergency Response Team for four years. Her final two years were spent in a fellowship position coordinating and supervising ERT members, service and conservation projects, and disaster response efforts.