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East Lincoln High alumna finds calling with AmeriCorps

 

Mordas

Mordas

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

One Lincoln County resident is putting her patriotism to work by completing the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) program, a 10-month volunteer initiative under FEMA Corps.

In February, Rebecca Mordas shipped out for a four-week training session with the federal assistance program following graduation from Wingate University in December.

According to an FEMA Corps press release, the AmeriCorps NCCC program “provides a boost to the nation’s ability to assist disaster survivors while expanding career opportunities for young people.”

During preparation at the AmeriCorps NCCC Southwest Region campus in Denver, Colo., Mordas and the nine other 18- to 24-year-olds in her group trained in activities focusing on teamwork, leadership development, communication, service learning and Logistics Systems, the release said.

Throughout the 10-month program — consisting of 1,700 service hours — the East Lincoln High School graduate will contribute to several projects at various locations throughout the United States, and if necessary, respond to disaster situations that may strike.

While the 22-year-old majored in health and physical education at Wingate — prepared to be a teacher — she felt an inner longing to do something else with her life and serve her country.

“I was in college during my senior year and going into student teaching,” she said, “and didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly.”

It was after a friend in the AmeriCorps program motivated Mordas to look into the opportunity that she decided last fall it was the right fit for her.

“I’ve always wanted to help out and volunteer and serve the country somehow,” she said, “and I’ve looked into the military but wasn’t sure I wanted to make that long of a commitment.”

In addition to helping others, the program appealed to Mordas because of the travel involved.

“I thought it would be a cool adventure,” she said.

Following training, Mordas traveled last month to the site of her first assignment — FEMA Corps’ Brooke Road Facility in Winchester, Va.

She currently works in a warehouse conducting logistics and administrative duties for the nation’s emergency management system.

Her duties require that her group conduct inventory on electronic devices shipped to disaster areas across the country.

“I have to make sure (at least) 15 percent of the inventory is correct and that they actually have it in the warehouse,” Mordas said.

After the eight-week program is completed at the end of May, she will receive a one-week vacation, called a “transition week,” before learning about her next assignment at a different location.

Details of each new appointment are not revealed until right before leaving, she said.

If at any point during her project responsibilities, a catastrophe occurs within the country or one of its territories, including Puerto Rico and Guam, Mordas will be dispatched to the emergency site for community assistance.

“We could just get a phone call that says, ‘You need to leave,’ and we will be deployed,” she said. “I’m pretty excited for it but nervous about the possibility of (also) being overwhelmed.”

Since 2012, when the AmeriCorps NCCC program commenced, volunteers have taken part in disaster assistance for Colorado flooding, Hurricane Sandy, Oklahoma tornado damage, and the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion in April 2013.

While she has yet to engage in disaster relief, Mordas believes her current work assignments are still impacting others.

“I’m making a difference in a small way and eventually it will make a bigger difference,” she said.

Mordas not only feels her time with AmeriCorps has already greatly matured her but also made her happier than her previous student teaching work.

“I’m a lot happier now, and I feel like I’ve grown a lot and gained a lot of independence,” she said.

Mordas moved to Lincolnton in 2005 after her parents, John and Patricia Mordas, decided to move the family from Massachusetts.

Four years later, she graduated from high school.

Still uncertain as to what future career path to take, Mordas is hoping her AmeriCorps experience will show her the way.

“I would like to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life,” she said.

She does, however, have an interest in possibly working for the federal government in some capacity, gaining experience and assurance from her current service.

She also believes her future home is in Colorado but said she is willing to move wherever she can find a good career.

Once Mordas completes her volunteer work this winter, she will receive a more than $5,000 payment —  the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award — to cover the cost of future school tuition or student loans.

FEMA Corps is currently accepting applications through Oct. 1 for its winter AmeriCorps NCCC program.

For more information, visit nationalservice.gov.

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