(The following personal account comes from Jerry Colivas, CV’s SAFELY OUT™ Advisory Team Leader.)
When working with volunteers, one of the primary tenants is to always enhance the volunteer experience. I had an opportunity to encounter this tenant first-hand when I was asked to speak on behalf of SAFELY OUT™ at the annual convention of the American Legislative Exchange Committee (ALEC) in Atlanta.
ALEC is a nationwide nonpartisan organization made up primarily of state legislators. Having spent most of my career in government emergency management, I like many are very aware that the downturn in the economy and the current budget crises around the country are forcing ALEC members and other legislators to evaluate all government services and find ways to empower citizens to volunteer and assist each other in essential ways.
Gary Dietrich, President of Citizen Voice, and I made a very well received presentation to ALEC’s Public Safety Task Force. I spoke about emerging trends in emergency management and how these trends relate to SAFELY OUT™, and Gary spoke about the value of the SAFELY OUT™ Kit and the impact Citizen Voice’s SAFELY OUT™ Project is already having in protecting the vulnerable. In my presentation, I said that emergency managers need to consider three emerging issues as they encounter fewer resources to get their job accomplished:
- Use of volunteers – A good example is the Federal Citizen Corps Program. This agency oversees the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), and Fire Corps. These programs help augment first responder and other public safety programs that government provides for our safety.
- Preparing the community – People need to be prepared to take care of themselves. There needs to be more public awareness that government may not be able to care for the needs of all individuals during a disaster situation.
- Development of needed resources through private/public partnerships –There has been lots of discussion about this idea over the years and now it is time to make it happen.
Citizen Voice’s SAFELY OUT™ staff and volunteers are working on all three of these issues and having success. The ALEC members that Gary and I talked with saw the connection and the need for programs like SAFELY OUT™. Our presentation to ALEC in Atlanta was another step in moving Citizen Voice’s SAFELY OUT™ Project into the national arena. We need your continuing support to keep up these types of activities.