Why I volunteer with Citizens Corps and CERT

Recently a friend of mine asked my why I volunteer, specifically she was asking about the time I spent volunteering in Citizens Corps and CERT. Here is what I told her.

Why I volunteer? And Why with CERT? I could probably write a Novella about it.

The basic reason is “Civic Duty”, helping others because you are part of the community.

As you might know, I was raised on the Gulf Coast and hurricanes and tropical storms were a constant threat. I learned early in life, that if a neighbor or different area of town had damage and destruction, it was our duty to go and help. At 8 years old I was replacing drywall, patching / redoing roofs. When I turned 16, I bought a car and used my dad’s trailer to haul off debris. Sometimes I was paid by the home-owners sometimes not.

After moving to the Ozarks in 2000, the city of Springfield backed out on a “contract for employment” and the 2nd job I had setup fell apart (the owner cheated on his wife and the business failed in a matter of weeks).

Back in Texas I had given my business to an employee when I moved here so there was no money there. I also sold the house for exactly what we owed on it in order to help a less fortunate family.

What that meant was even though we moved here with some savings, it went quickly. It took me just over four months to find a job, my wife went to work in the medical field making ¼ of what she was making back in Texas. At one point someone, I figure from church, bought and put a couple bags of groceries on our front porch. Food was a blessing!

I believe we all have our part to do and we should do it voluntarily. I see CERT as one way to have a local base support a community while having a national way of working. That is we help our neighbors while CERT training shows people nationwide the basics of self-sustaining and helping during an emergency.

With that background the CERT can become a “prepper”, back in Texas we called it being prepared. While preparing for emergencies a CERT is learning how to help, how to organize (themselves, their family and others).

Organized people can get more done and grow from there, like a tree with branches. CERT / Citizens Corps is the trunk, from there people can assist in the other local and county organized programs (VIPS -Volunteers in Police Service, Fire Corps, Medical Corps, Animal rescue, Red Cross…) or branch off to other areas like the Nixa School Systems CSIP, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, State Guard, ARES and more.

Starting with a CERT class, adding the various FEMA and SEMA training a volunteer can help their community and State in too many ways to count. One could volunteer in any other area in life and expand, however I personally believe that if one uses CERT as the first stepping stone the options from it onward are numerous. the CERT program teaches not just what to do but the “why” and “how” you should do it. For example, volunteering to feed the hungry in a “soup kitchen” is a great thing, however if that volunteer had gone through the CERT program first, they would understnad how and why the food is cooked a certain way, how to do traffic / crowd flow through the line and to their seats. It (the CERT program) helps people to understand more in depth as to what they are doing when they volunteer.

So why do I volunteer and especially with CERT, well now, I am “paying it forward”.

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