Jennifer Puccetti, director of educational initiatives at the School of Education, got a call from the Peace Corps Monday, September 12, telling her to be at Logan Airport for a 7:15 a.m. flight Tuesday to Orlando. Final destination — somewhere in the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast area, for a 30-day stint of emergency relief work.
Puccetti came to BU in 1993 to work with the BU/Chelsea Partnership following a two-year Peace Corps posting in the Dominican Republic. In Chelsea, she served as director of community and parent relations, director of the Parent Information Center, and principal of the Clark Avenue School before coming to SED in 2002.
The Peace Corps has never been far from her heart. She signed on as an on-call volunteer with the Crisis Corps, an arm of the Peace Corps that was established in 1996 to send experienced volunteers to foreign and domestic emergency sites for short-term community service projects. The Peace Corps reached an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency last Wednesday to provide volunteers to the hurricane-ravaged area.
Late last week, Puccetti responded to a call for potential volunteers to indicate their interest and availability for Katrina duty. Things got rolling Friday afternoon when she was told that she was on the list of potential volunteers and would need to undergo a medical check-up and criminal record and other reviews. She was told to expect a call on Monday, and worked with the SED administration to arrange a leave and to wrap up projects for a one-month absence. She was to learn her assignment after arriving in Orlando, which is serving as a staging area for Crisis Corps workers.
“The administration of SED and the university have been very supportive,” Puccetti says. “Without their support, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
SED Dean Douglas Sears says Puccetti is ideal for the task. “I am confident that Jennifer will make a big contribution to the relief and recovery efforts in the Gulf Region,” he says. “She has an exceptional head for logistics. By character and her extensive experience, she is well-suited to helping in crisis situations. She isn’t fazed by foul weather, deep water or Spartan conditions.”