Tag Archives: AmeriCorps NCCC

AmeriCorps NCCC: Cowpies in Cameron Parish

AmeriCorps NCCC

It was hard to imagine a home once stood on the empty concrete slab I stared at. The crumble of bricks, the remnants of tiles were the only reminders that lives once unfolded on this patch of earth surrounded by oak trees and knee-high grass. But I’d become immune to this scene; I’d seen enough destruction in the last few months that I wasn’t fazed anymore. I’d seen homes sagging like wet cardboard, entire houses tossed into swamps, houses where people had drowned in their attics in floods.

Fresh off two months of building homes in Katrina-damaged New Orleans, my eleven AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team mates and I were well-equipped to handle the destruction of Cameron Parish. Hurricane Rita, which came ashore just a month after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, flattened this place as if it were all made out of Legos. Since then, groups of church volunteers and college spring breakers and AmeriCorps teams have come to rebuild.

Read the rest of the story on The Voluntary Traveler website.

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Sample chapter

I think Chapter 1 is ready to make an appearance.

Click here to read it, and feel free to offer your comments and (constructive) criticism.

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Book excerpt posted on Matador

I worked an excerpt from my book into a piece for Matador’s travel writing blog The Traveler’s Notebook. You can read it here.

Gold 5 in front of a building we gutted in Cameron, LA.

Gold 5 in front of a building we gutted in Cameron, LA.

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Fear and Loathing in Sacramento, or: How I Became Ms. Megan

I’m currently working on developing and organizing excerpts from my memoir for my book proposal. Here’s a look at Chapter 10 from my time in Sacramento.

Sacramento, CA  |  excerpt from Ch. 10 “Fear and Loathing…”

The first thing Shayla did when she climbed on Brendan’s back during Boys and Girls Club after school was pee. All over his sweatshirt.

The rambunctious first grader with the huge laugh had wiggled her way into Brendan’s seemingly impenetrable, tough-guy quiet. And then she peed on him.

These things happened pretty often, really. The adorable children of the school were always doing something cute, and it often involved their new friends on Gold 5. There was Kimberly, who ate her finger painting during snack time and promptly threw up all over the picnic table. There was the fifth grader who liked to throw the football into groups of girls at recess. There were first graders who’d curse and fight on the playground. And there was Shayla, who peed on Brendan.

The elementary school was a short walk from our lovely accommodations on the all-but-abandoned, decommissioned Air Force base in Sacramento. The sprawling city sits in the bowl of California, where the mountains trap the heat and smog. Our Air Force base, where we’d all trained at the start of our service, consists of a hotel, a group of dormitories, offices for the Forest Service, and lots of empty airplane hangars. Taco stands, Mexican and Asian groceries, and convenience stores line the main thoroughfare outside our dorms. Every morning we’d cross the street and walk the few blocks to the school, passing the tiny, rundown apartments and modest homes many of the children lived in.

We were their new buddies, the coolest kids in school. As the 4th team assigned to the elementary school, the kids were familiar with our gray shirts and khaki pants. They waved to us as we walked in the school for our first day, shouting “Hi, AmeriCorps!” One little boy surprised Kerri with a hug, nearly tripping her as she walked through the school’s gate.

It didn’t start out so exciting, though. Grant revealed our project to a team of mostly disappointed corps members at a conference in Baton Rouge. Being back in Sacramento seemed like a punishment when other teams were heading to Alaska or Utah or a sandy island off the coast of Alabama called Dauphin. And only a few of my team mates were interested in working in a school; the rest of us either hated the idea or were indifferent. Mostly, I think we were still waiting for that “sexy” project, the one where we’d be in a beautiful place doing something that wasn’t so behind-the-scenes or down in the dirt. We were all not-so-secretly hoping we’d be the one team sent to Hawaii or Alaska, jogging on a tropical beach or kayaking through a fjord for P.T. Instead, there we were, right back where we’d started.

I’m working on a sample chapter. Check back later or read more about my project here.

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