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    Hurricane Katrina survivor turns experience into a positive and earns Community Hero award

    Hurricane Katrina survivor turns experience into a positive and earns Community Hero award

    Photo By Whitney Katz | On Dec. 3, Joint Enabling Capabilities Command member, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd...... read more read more



    Story by Whitney Katz 

    Joint Enabling Capabilities Command

    NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. – On Dec. 3, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyierra Wilson, an Information Systems Technician at the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, earned one of 10 Community Hero awards presented by Dunkin’ Donuts of the metropolitan Washington D.C. region. Following her struggles during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Wilson dedicated her life to volunteering and improving her local community which helped her earn this award.

    Hurricane Katrina had a resounding effect on many people across the country; but for Wilson, her personal experiences in the aftermath of that natural disaster determined the course her life would take.

    Growing up in New Orleans, Wilson was raised by her grandparents in a loving environment; although her childhood often included dire times when food and water were scarce.

    “I remember some down times I’ve had,” Wilson recalled. “There was one time that we only had water because I was told to take it from the neighbor’s water hose at two in the morning”.

    Despite Wilson’s humble upbringings, one thing has always been consistent – her positive attitude. Even after being evacuated to the Louisiana Superdome during Hurricane Katrina when she was just 15 years old and losing everything except the clothes on her back; Wilson did not let that misfortune dampen her spirits.

    “My experience was unlike most,” Wilson said. “I lived in the Superdome for six days without the basic necessities. I was scared and confused, but it only made me a stronger woman.”

    The one experience Wilson can still recall vividly was the assistance of the National Guard members who were stationed at the Superdome. In addition to providing medical care, security and transportation; Wilson most fondly remembers them as the people who supplied food and water to those seeking refuge.

    “I remember my granddad saying ‘Thank You!’ He respected [the military members] for their service,” Wilson said. “I wanted to do the same. I wanted to do a job that people respected.”

    That memory resonated so much with Wilson that three years later, she walked into a recruiting office and signed up to join the Armed Forces. In her five short years with the U.S. Navy, Wilson has already made quite an impact; earning two Navy and Marine Achievement Medals along with the Hampton Roads Virginia Chamber of Commerce Certificate of Excellence and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

    Outside of her military career, Wilson has dedicated her life to volunteering through charities like the Ronald McDonald House and local elementary schools to improve the lives of underprivileged children and their families.

    “I like making people smile,” she said. “I know how hard it is when you feel like you are alone and you have no one to lend a hand. I would hate to see that happen to another child.”

    Wilson’s quiet reserve and big heart have left a lasting impression on those who know her best. In fact, unbeknownst to Wilson, one of her close friends submitted a nomination package for the Dunkin’ Donuts Community Hero award detailing her substantial efforts to impact, improve and inspire the local community. Each year, Dunkin’ Donuts retailers ask guests to nominate an individual from the local area who goes above and beyond to keep their community running every day.

    “I was really surprised,” Wilson said. “I had no idea my friend had gone searching for a way to recognize me. She often tells me that I deserve something for being the person I am.”

    On Dec. 3, Wilson accepted her award during a ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn of Rockville, Md. In addition to this prestigious award, Wilson also received $500 and free coffee and donuts each week for a year.

    Wilson has already accomplished more in her 24 years than most people do in a lifetime; however, she is not done yet. She will graduate in April 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communications from Ashford University and has already begun writing a book on her experiences growing up in New Orleans and during Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps her greatest accomplishment of all though, is her son, Ja’Mauri, whom she welcomed just five months ago.

    Throughout her childhood trials and tribulations, Wilson vowed to maintain a positive outlook and never let the hard times defeat her. Instead, she took what she learned and chose a life of volunteerism and giving back to her community. Wilson has been an unquestionable inspiration to many, especially those who have been lucky enough to witness her enduring optimism and genuine compassion for those less fortunate.



    Date Taken: 12.09.2013
    Date Posted: 12.09.2013 09:29
    Story ID: 117927

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