AmeriCorps Hurricane Ian relief round table talks

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Paul Dolan

When Southwest Florida was at its lowest after Hurricane Ian, groups came from all over to get us back on our feet.

In times of crisis, people often look to helpers for inspiration. AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith is visiting Southwest Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

He said it’s clear that Southwest Florida has no shortage of helpers.

“To watch people who when they were oftentimes worried about their own homes…they wanted to fight for their community…And that’s what gives me confidence that this community is not only going to survive, but it’s going to thrive for the years to come,” Smith said.

AmeriCorps round table discussions. CREDIT: WINK News

Smith met with local AmeriCorps members and senior volunteers Monday night, hearing them continue to fight for their communities every day since the storm.

“They’re mucking and gutting houses….But they’re also delivering food. They’re also spending time with children and being mentors and tutors in dealing with learning loss that happened in the wake of the hurricane,” Smith said.

Melissa Bonner serves as an executive director of the Dr. Piper Center for Social Services. They sponsor three AmeriCorps senior programs. Bonner said that senior volunteers have been working overtime.

Dr. Piper Center for Social Services, Inc. CREDIT: WINK News

“They were living in communities that were impacted, and they continue to serve their clients even though they were going through things as well,” Bonner said.

While Ian fades from national headlines and relief groups continue heading home, some will remain, like the recovery nonprofit SBP, whose members arrived on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, this is a very slow process,” Angelina Hines, a client services coordinator to SBP, said.

“We’re helping people to go back to their lives or be able to serve in their own communities. And we’re being shaped by that experience. And that process is really what service is about,” Hines said.

Click here to learn more information about AmeriCorps and how you can get involved.

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