By Lisa Capobianco
Danielle Babon of Southington is currently in Virginia, preparing to complete her final ten week assignment before graduating from the Atlantic Region’s 20th Class of the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), as a member of FEMA Corps.
Babon is one of 160 men and women who pledged to complete ten months of national service, volunteering her time to address the critical needs of individuals in different communities. NCCC and its FEMA Corps unit engage 2,800 young Americans in a full-time commitment to service every year for ten months, taking part in projects related to natural disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship as well as urban and rural development, stated the program in a press release.
“I really believe in the idea of giving back—everyone will need help at one point in their lives,” said Babon, who discovered AmeriCorps when she volunteered in New Orleans to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.
During the first part of her service, Babon assisted survivors affected by the flooding that hit Colorado last September. Babon, along with a team comprised of nine members, said she spent ten weeks working with more than 3,500 survivors and helped register over 160 applicants for FEMA assistance.
“Don’t take things for granted,” said Babon, adding that her parents always taught her about giving back to the community. “Even when you do little things, it makes a difference.”
While volunteering in northern Colorado, Babon recalled one task which involved surveying the areas damaged by the heavy floods, taking pictures of the damage and uploading them on a database so FEMA employees could access the needs of those areas. According to a press release from the federal agency Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the massive rains and flooding that started last September 11 affected 17 Colorado counties, destroying over 1,800 homes and damaging over 16,000 homes as well as 50 bridges.
“The roads were so damaged there was no access to people’s homes,” said Babon, adding that she enjoyed getting to know her teammates on a deeper level.
Babon and her team spent the second part of their service in Winchester, Va., assembling disability kits at the FEMA Warehouse. Currently, she is stationed in Crystal City, Va. to assist FEMA’s Records Management Division in reviewing documents related to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
“I like being able to see the administration side of FEMA,” said Babon, who attended Wheelock College in Boston with a degree in social work. “We work side-by-side with them.”
Upon graduating this May, Babon will receive an education award of $5,550, which she can use to further her education or pay back student loans. After graduation, Babon said she plans to receive her Master’s Degree in social work within the next five years. In November, Babon said she plans to volunteer in Louisiana’s St. Bernard Project (SPB), which she fell in love with in college. SPB is a program that assists communities affected by disasters through four programs, each designed to create safe and affordable housing as well as jobs for veterans and to ensure that families can recover efficiently, according to the non-profit organization’s website.
By Lisa Capobianco