AmeriCorps helping with recovery in Fort Myers Beach

Reporter: Michael Hudak Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

For the past two weeks, AmeriCorps has been out on Fort Myers Beach helping people clean their homes that have been filled with debris since Hurricane Ian.

When Brian Duddy first saw his home in the wake of the hurricane, he described it in two words. “Jaw-dropping. Didn’t know what to do. My wife and I were just looking at the mud and the debris and just didn’t know what to say.”

Brian Duddy. (Credit: WINK News)

His view looks a lot different now. “Just brought tears to my eyes,” said Duddy. The time spent on the back patio is different than it used to be too. “There are so many good memories out here, especially in the past couple of years sitting out here, my dog, and he’s here, and I’m sitting over there having a cold beer and just enjoying life, you know?”

View from Brian Duddy’s home. (Credit: Brian Duddy)

If there’s one word that describes how is feeling now, it’s thankful. Little did he know how much of a difference a crew of eight different people from seven different states could make.

AmeriCorps, an independent federal government agency built on the backs of volunteers, showed up on Fort Myers Beach to help residents recover.

“It makes you feel better about yourself and helping people,” said Shawnie Hemond, with AmeriCorps.

Shawnie Hemond. (Credit: WINK News)

Hemond is not just a volunteer with AmeriCorps, she’s also got skin in the game. “I have some family down here where it was going to hit, Cape Coral mostly, and it was devastating.”

That personal passion turned into real action, and with AmeriCorps’ help, “I never thought I’d see, you know, the brick again. So I’m so happy and couldn’t be more proud to be part of this,” said Hemond.

Suddenly Duddy’s muddy home went from ugly to lovely. “Just crazy. Crazy that the whole crew, from start to finish, just go go go go.”

If there’s one word that describes Duddy, it will always be, “Thankful. And everyone should be thankful for groups like AmeriCorps.”

AmeriCorps sent crews to Southwest Florida days after the hurricane, and they’ve been rotating in and out ever since.

If you want to volunteer with AmeriCorps, you can learn more about how by clicking here.

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