By Ermira Babamusta/
My father is my hero. He has saved many lives in his lifetime and I love that he is a humble and a just man. I admire people who are just, kind and bring positive change.
Public service has the potential to change lives in the communities we serve. Our nation’s leaders have played a critical role in launching a program like AmeriCorps that addresses poverty, hunger, disaster and other crisis. In 1990 President George H.W. Bush created the Commission on National and Community Service. President Bill Clinton proposed and signed the bill that created AmeriCorps in 1994. Later, President Geroge W. Bush expanded the opportunity to serve for many pioneers across the nation.
In 2008 I had the honor to serve as a Capacity Building and Community Outreach Coordinator for the American Red Cross in the Greater New York. At this time I had just graduated from Long Island University with an advanced graduate degree in United Nations Diplomacy and had completed my first diplomatic & fact-finding mission in Kosovo. I joined a one year AmeriCorps program that prepared the local communities in New York about the awareness and risks in the areas of public safety, health and homeland security. Prior to my post in Manhattan, in October 2008 I joined hundreds of Vistas in Denver Colorado for training in capacity building, partnerships and networking. Followed by Department of Homeland Security training in rescue emergency management, effective public relations and other aspects of homeland security.
The global financial crisis of 2008 touched everyone, including many families in New York who were facing hardships at home. During these extraordinary times the Red Cross changed lives by providing food, blankets, dry clothing, and prepared thousands of New Yorkers to be “ready” before a disaster hits by providing lifesaving and emergency preparedness training.
I had to wear many hats for my role as a Vista during my humanitarian mission of protecting human life. The wide range of activities we engaged in provided an enriching and fulfilling learning experience for me. The AmeriCorps experience enhanced my character and shaped my lifelong values.
In collaboration with the Red Cross, The Homeland Security, the Fire Department and Local Police Precincts, I promoted civic engagement focusing mainly on senior citizens and less economically developed neighbourhoods. I also established community partnerships and organized countless of Emergency Preparedness presentations in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Long Island and Manhattan. The communities we served were extremely grateful for these important lifesaving services.
To address the needs of New Yorkers we also began expanding our NY Red Cross program by collaborating with neighbouring high schools. These efforts reinforced the importance of involving talented young people in humanitarian work and help them develop new skills and attitudes. Every man, woman, boy or girl can make a difference!
I commend my team and all the volunteers in our joint efforts to build a better world through promoting peace, tolerance, care and respect for others.
After my AmeriCorps service I continued to focus on the values of humanitarian and civic service, volunteerism and empowering youth in my work for the Congressional Youth Leadership Council (Global Youth Leadership Conference), ELCA Global Mission, the Borgen Project and the President’s National Service Program.
I congratulate AmeriCorps Vista on its 50th Anniversary. I wish you a happy anniversary and many more years of service to humanity.
By Ermira Babamusta/