Joplin One Year - Member Reflection


One Year, One Community, One Direction

Submitted by Clare Holdinghaus, Year 18 ERT

This month I got to return to Joplin for the one year anniversary of the tornado. Being in the AmeriCorps Recovery Center, seeing the destruction and talking to homeowners again brought back all the stress and frustration and all the sadness that I knew in my two months serving in Joplin. I was also reminded of all the joys, the thrill of accomplishment, and the gratitude that I felt working for storm-affected residents. The strength of these emotions surprised me as they all came flooding back. During my time in Joplin, I plowed through my work every day, oftentimes putting in long hours in the office working on tedious tasks or doing physical labor out in the field. I ended each day exhausted. There was little time for reflection or sentimentality.

Returning months after I served in Joplin gave me space and perspective to reflect. I re-experienced the sorrow of hearing homeowner’s stories of their losses, the satisfaction of planting a healthy, beautiful tree in a homeowner’s yard, and the humility of seeing the strength and dedication of the volunteers we work with. I cried when people cheered AmeriCorps as we walked through the streets of Joplin. I knew I had put in the hours, and I knew I had put in the effort, but until returning to Joplin, I didn’t realize how much of my heart I had invested. I fell in love with Joplin. One year after the storm, and four months after leaving, Joplin is still in my heart every day.

Click here for more photos of the Joplin Anniversary 

Support disaster recovery in Joplin and other affected communities by donating to AmeriCorps St. Louis.


Tales from the Trail - Part One


A Week at Markham Springs - Written By Sara Levine, ERT Yr 18

This week was an exciting week for our Emergency Response Team on the Bike Trail. We were able to bring a team of 14 people! In addition to 8 ERT members, 6 members from the Education Team joined us. Although it was a short week (Memorial Day), we were able to get a lot of work done on the trail. We made it around the halfway point of the section we are working on. It was a short week filled with bouts of rain, riverboat rides, and lots of trail. We taught the Ed Team members about building tread for a bike trail and how to use different tools. It was educational for everyone!

One of the awesome things about the week was camping at the Markham Springs Recreation Area. Markham Springs is a part of the Mark Twain National Forest. The best part about staying there was meeting the campground host and hostess. They were so gracious in welcoming us into their campground. When we arrived we were given a basket of homemade sugar cookies. They were amazing to us. They told us many times how happy they were to see the youth of America caring about things like the country’s national parks.

It’s meeting people like that who make all of our long days worth it. It helps remind all of us that even though we can’t always see the finished product, someone can and they are thankful. It reminds us that when we serve, we are doing it for people like Lavinda and Henry High, who genuinely appreciate all of the work we do. It was especially gratifying for our team this week because we were able to directly help out the High’s. There is a trail – The Eagle Bluff Trail – at Markham Springs that they were hoping we could fix up for them. The trailheads had become overgrown with vegetation and there were fallen trees across the trail. Our last day this week we stayed at Markham Springs and helped maintain the trail. We cleared out the trailheads and did a little maintenance along the trail, got rid of all of the downed trees. The trail is a beautiful little path that runs along a ridge overlooking the Black River. Now that people can actually see where it starts, hopefully more people will use it and enjoy it.

Support Trail Projects in Missouri by Donating to AmeriCorps St. Louis

-Stay Tuned for more Tales from the Trail-


AmeriCorps St. Louis Members Recognized with MCSC Awards


MCSC AmeriCorps State Service Award recipient Will BurksJEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Community Service Commission (MCSC) honored several Missourians who have helped strengthen their local communities through volunteerism and service at its annual Celebration of Service and Volunteerism. The awards ceremony took place on April 29, at the Truman Hotel and Conference Center, Jefferson City. “Nothing can compare to the benefits reaped when individuals come together with the goal of improving and enriching the lives of others,” said Linda Thompson, MCSC executive director. “MCSC, with a vision to strengthen Missouri communities through volunteerism and service, will pay special recognition to organizations and individuals who exemplify outstanding community service throughout the state at our annual Celebration of Service and Volunteerism.”

MCSC AmeriCorps State Service Award recipient Emily WoodruffAmeriCorps St. Louis Members is proud to have received three awards. Second-year Emergency Response Team Members Emily Woodruff and Will Burks both received an AmeriCorps State Service Award, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding volunteer service over and beyond the requirements of their designated program. Our Coordinated Service Team, composed of Brittany Ledbetter, Jessica Callahan and Jacob Buck received the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Award, recognizing outstanding projects and volunteer engagement surrounding the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

“Whether it is the AmeriCorps members serving their communities, or the volunteers who donate their time throughout the year and on ‘Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service,’ the Commission has had much success empowering individuals to ‘make a difference’ in Missouri communities,” Thompson said.

MCSC is composed of 15-25 governor-appointed commissioners with expertise in areas of community service and volunteerism. Commissioners and staff work together to encourage all Missourians to give of themselves to make Missouri a better place to live for all of its residents.

State-wide nominations for the awards are reviewed and selected by a panel of governor-appointed commissioners and commission staff. MCSC MLK Service Award given to AmeriCorps St. Louis Coordinated Service Team