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Teaming up to help

Delmar native travels the country in disaster relief program

— Tosi said her team spent four months being trained in general field operations at an AmeriCorps facility in Denver, before spending time in New Mexico being trained in logistics. They were then sent to New Jersey to downsize a field office that was helping with Hurricane Sandy cleanup.

“It’s been a really great way to see the country,” she said.Gatzunis said team members become like family during the 10 or 20 months they spend together. They travel the country in a 15-passenger van and live together in either hotels or makeshift bases set up by FEMA.

“We’re with each other 24/7,” said Gatzunis. “It’s a whole different aspect for us, but it’s so much easier when we are out in the field working with this team because we know each other’s quirks.”

On weekends, teams are expected to volunteer their time with the communities where they are stationed. Tosi said her team recently helped the people of Seaside Heights in New Jersey re-plant gardens, demolish homes and remove debris. She said the experience was humbling.

“I got to see these things first hand and it made me thankful for the opportunity,” she said.

Tosi’s team is now in Atlanta preparing for the hurricane season. They will take inventory of supplies and get them to distribution points along the coast. The team will then track trucks that come to delivery the supplies.

Tosi said besides making close friends, her work with the FEMA Corps has also provided her valuable real-world experience outside of college.

“This is what I want to do in real life. I love it,” she said. “I’ve also been able to see the country in a way not a lot of young adults would be able to afford.”

To learn more about the program, visit www.nationalservice.gov.

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