Sunday, September 28, 2008

Partnerships and Awareness with Business and Government

Two of the other organizations we need to partner with are businesses and government agencies.

Last week, readers of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog participated in the

Emergency Preparedness Fair in Alexandria, Virginia.
The preparedness fair should be seen as a role model for other government agencies and businesses.
During the morning, participants were given a bag with some supplies to start their kit.
Representatives from the Alexandria Citizen Corps Council, Alexandria Police, Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Fairfax County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Volunteer Fairfax, Animal Services, National Weather Service, USDA Food Safety, and other agencies were there to speak about their programs and answer any questions.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Today Is The Day of Action!

Yesterday, we introduce our readers to ServiceNation.

And Today
September 27
is the

Why September 27th?

The Day of Action will take place on Saturday, September 27th, 2008. This date was specifically chosen because it is:

- the day after the first Presidential debate,
- the day after Congress adjourns for recess, and therefore most congressional members will be in their home districts on this day,
- National Public Lands Day, a day to highlight and celebrate our public green spaces across the country.

There are 2713 events planned in 50 states across the country!

Why not participate in one of the events?

Friday, September 26, 2008

National Declaration of Service Coalition Partner

Neighbors Helping Neighbors is proud to be the newest coalition partner with ServiceNation.

ServiceNation is a national campaign to increase service opportunities, solve chronic social problems through service, and promote a culture of service in America. ServiceNation is a vision of a new America, an America where citizens unite to take responsibility for strengthening communities and building a better future, and where service is a core ideal of citizenship. The ultimate vision of ServiceNation is an America in which, by 2020, 100 million citizens will volunteer time in schools, workplaces, and faith-based and community institutions each and every year (up from 61 million today), and that increasing numbers of Americans annually will commit a year of their lives to national service.

Sign the pledge and participate in a Day of Action on September 27, 2008.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's Your Connection? Newspaper Partners

Recently we have been included in discussions about outreach and getting citizens aware of Citizen Corps programs.

Our community partner discussions fit perfectly to this conversation.

What's Your
When asked, how did I get involved locally with disaster emergency response, the answer was simple. There was a small one paragraph article in the local newspaper. I was unable to attend the first round of classes, but when a similar paragraph appeared several months later, I responded. I had no idea this program existed.
Yesterday, we discussed an article in the Ellenville Journal, a local town newspaper.
It was the Connection Newspapers - The View and the Fairfax Times, were I first read about the CERT program. And through the CERT program learned about the many programs offered through the Citizen Corps.
Earlier in the year, we spoke with the local newspapers who were very interested in including this public information as a story. It is very similar to the paragraph articles, like child safety seat inspections, they include from the Police Department.
The next time you struggle how to balance funding issues with reaching out to new members of your community, consider having a conversation with your hometown newspaper. That no cost conversation can go a long way. Thing of the reach this could have, as many hometown papers are delivered to the driveways of most residents in the community.
This may just get others started on the path of emergency preparedness and volunteering in their own neighborhoods. And might not even cost your organization a dime.

No Cost Internet For Awareness - You've Been Exposed

As we continue to think about partners or ways to increase awareness at no cost, we spent a few minutes to see where Neighbors Helping Neighbors ( has appeared on the internet over the past year.

Here are some of the places articles or references can be found.








Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Partnering With Your Local Schools

This week, we have been focusing on partnering.

While reading an article from a small town in upstate New York, it became clear that many have overlooked one of the most valuable partners in our community.

The local schools.

Resident of this town and other communities that struggle with this same problem may benefit from partnering with their local schools and getting students involved.
The following highlights one very successful program.

Students In Emergency Preparedness Programs Not A New Concept For Fairfax County

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Learning Playbook

Neighbors Helping Neighbors is pleased to share our experiences with
for publication in a book about corporate innovations.

In a disaster you might not have use of your car!

Thats right, can you live without your car?
What are the chances that in a disaster you will not be able to use your car?

What if the gas stations do not have gas? Like we saw at some stations last week.

Consider not using your car today!

Several readers of Neighbors Helping Neighbors signed the pledge.

Why not you?
Sign the pledge for a chance to win prizes and make a difference in the environment.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

NG2000 - What's That?

The NG2000 Consumer News and Referral Center began in December 2006, and offers product/service news from around the world via global news clippings, blogs, discussion forums, software, opinion pieces, special reports, feature stories, links, e-books, promotional materials and more.

Of interest to Neighbors Helping Neighbors readers is their section on

Volunteer News, Images, and Videos

Thanks to NG2000 for sharing with us your website.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Nation of Change

There have been several organizations that Neighbors Helping Neighbors has been working with.

This week we will highlight some of those organizations and coalition partnerships.

Including an organization that as part of their vision is to "...devote ourselves to the idea of a common interest and a common destiny, then perhaps as a nation we can move past bitter partisan gridlock and the sense that ordinary citizens have no real voice in our democracy. And if we can do that we can begin the important work of addressing together our greatest challenges as a nation."

Sounds simple enough.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors will also feature some ways you can get involved on these national initiatives to take volunteerism to the next level. Helping you make a difference, "Locally, Nationally and Around the World!"

Family Locator - Where are they?

Check out this demonstration and let us know what you think.

Good idea? Or Big Brother?

Family Locator

With this technology available, why do we not all have location based alerts?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Religious Best Practices - Where Do We Go From Here?

One of the focuses of Neighbors Helping Neighbors during National Preparedness Month 2008, has been around children awareness and readiness.

From discussions on Landline, Cellphone, Email to providing a Crisis Management Plan Template from a local school district.

These suggestions apply to pre-schools, K-12, and universities. They also can be leveraged in religious organizations and the workplace.

As we look at religious organizations, there is the concept of
Ready Interfaith TM

There are quite a few religious based websites that provide additional guidance on preparedness, grant/funding options, and best practices/checklists from other organizations.

One organization is the Secure Community Network (SCN). And while this website focuses on one religion, there are best practices that can be leveraged across faiths.

Another resource is the Christian Emergency Network.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Prepare To Spend Time With Your Children

National Youth Preparedness Day?

On September 25, after sitting down for dinner with your family, why not watch the Sesame Street Ready video and then head over to Cold Stone Creamery for dessert for a good cause.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street (Ready)?

Let's Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies

This initiative was launched today as part of National Preparedness Month. If you have children in your household or are a caregiver, teacher, administrator, etc. this is a must read!

As mentioned in the blog comment, in order to make a true impact, we need to start with today's youth.

And did someone say free?

Another example of a no cost resource available to our residents. Thank you to all the sponsors of the program.

Local Citizen Corps Council Video Now Available

One of the main activities of local Citizen Corps Councils is to increase awareness in the community to help citizens become better prepared and trained to help their fellow neighbors in a major emergency or disaster.

This an example of some of the outreach we did locally.

The video is being shown on the local government television station and can be shared with community groups.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Anniversary Neighbors Helping Neighbors Blog

One year ago today, as part of National Preparedness Month 2007, we launched the Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog as part of a local awareness campaign.

Within one year, the blog has grown to become an international resource sharing best practices from around the world, with a focus on emergency response volunteers, including youth.

We have now reached over

13,000 people
70 countries
1,500 cities

This does not include the thousands of people who regularly read this blog through RSS feeds.

As part of National Preparedness Month 2008, we have really taken this forum to the next level by announcing an International Youth Representative and National Representative.

Demonstrating that volunteers can make a difference and share best practices "Locally and Around the World".

Stay Safe!

Andrew S. Levy, Executive Director
Neighbors Helping Neighbors Launches National Preparedness Month Blog

Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a partner in National Preparedness Month, was pleased to provide the following suggestion to and the Ad Council.

Thank you to the Ad Council and, it has definitely had an impact on many people.
For example, every mall we go to, you see the campaign. An excellent job has been done on awareness.
The real question is how do we reach all of the people who are too busy with soccer and band practice, picking up at religious school, meetings, etc.?
How do we reach those that are too busy to notice that sign in the mall?
As part of 2009 we need greater reach into the schools. A year long campaign that is focused on the PTAs, getting the message out through school newsletters.
Take it a step further and get the students active in preparedness.
If we look back at the stop smoking or drinking campaigns, was it not the youth of America that had some of the greatest impact on their parents?
Thanks again.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Monday, September 15, 2008

American Red Cross, Citizen Corps, and IBM Volunteer Programs Recognized by President Bush

The following speech from President of the United States, George Bush, mentioned many of the volunteer programs highlighted in the Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog, including American Red Cross, Citizen Corps, and IBM Corporate Service Corps.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Please be seated. Welcome to the South Ground of the White House. It is a joy to be here with members of the armies of compassion. I'm really glad you're here and I appreciate your inspiration to our fellow citizens. I believe you are a constant reminder of the true source of our nation's strength, which is the good hearts and souls of the American people.

We have seen the good hearts of our people over the last week as caring volunteers have helped their fellow citizens through Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna. The Red Cross, which provides a vital role in helping the relief efforts and recovery efforts, has been spending millions of dollars to provide shelter and food for evacuees and to help with the clean-up efforts. Yet charitable contributions have not kept pace with their expenses, and I hope our fellow citizens will support the Red Cross, particularly as Hurricane Ike and other storms develop over the Gulf Coast. You can help by going to the Red Cross's website -- -- and make a vital contribution to help our fellow citizens.

I appreciate the fact that those here represent the hundreds of thousands of our citizens who answered the call to love a neighbor like we'd like to be loved ourselves. I appreciate the fact that you and others lift up souls, one person at a time. You strengthen the foundation of our democracy, which is the engagement of our people. I want to thank you for what you do. God bless you and welcome. (Applause.)

I thank Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Department of the Interior, and Patricia, who have joined us; Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez; Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters; Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, welcome Madame Congresswoman, thanks for coming. I appreciate Stephen Goldsmith, the Chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service; Jack Hawkins, Director of Volunteers for Prosperity; Ron Tschetter, who is the Director of the Peace Corps -- (applause) -- I knew that was coming. (Laughter.) Jean Case, the Chairman of the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation and members of that council.

I appreciate my buddy, Michael W. Smith, who is going to play a couple of songs for us here. (Applause.) And his wife, Debbie. I want to thank student and school administrators and board members from the LEAGUE that are here today. These are students from schools all across the country. (Applause.) We are glad you are here.

With us is the 2007 Spirit of Hope Award Recipient. This is the military's way of honoring people who have given back to their communities. Giovanni Balingit -- Giovanni, welcome; thank you, sir; congratulations to you. (Applause.) I want to thank all those who are here in the United States military. Thank you for wearing the uniform of the United States. (Applause.)
But most of all, thanks for coming. I really appreciate you taking time out to come by and let me say hello to you.

In my first inaugural address, I challenged all Americans to be "citizens, not spectators ... responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character."

Eight months later Americans were tested by the worst attack on our nation. In the midst of chaos and sorrow, Americans responded with the -- with characteristic courage and grace. It was a remarkable moment in our country. It really was, when you think about it. Rescue workers wrote their Social Security numbers on their arms and then rushed into buildings. Citizens became members of ambulance teams. And people from all across the country poured into New York City to help.

The terrorists who attacked our country on September the 11th didn't understand our country at all. Evil may crush concrete and twist steel, but it can never break the spirit of the American people. (Applause.)

In the weeks and months after the attacks, inspiring acts continued to unfold all across the country. I'm sure you heard the stories, just like I did. Men and women of our armed forces accepted dangerous new duties, and a lot of folks stepped forward to volunteer to protect our fellow citizens. But the desire to serve reached far beyond the military. Millions of Americans were -- really wanted to help our country recover.

And so to tap into that spirit, I called on every American to spend at least 4,000 hours -- or two years in the course of a lifetime -- to serve our nation through acts of compassion. Some said that's acting -- asking a lot for the country, and they were right -- and they were right. Two years during a lifetime is a lot to give. But the truth of the matter is, citizens who do give realize that they become enriched just like those folks that they're helping.

To empower Americans looking to help, we launched what's called the USA Freedom Corps. The goal of the USA Freedom Corps was to connect Americans with opportunities to serve our country, to foster a culture of citizenship and responsibility and service. Over the last six years, USA Freedom Corps has met these goals.

One way we helped was to launch a web site called, which is the largest clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities in America. In other words, we used high-tech innovations to be able to channel people's desire to serve in a constructive way.

And so this government website directs people to private charities, or local churches, or Habitat for Humanity drives, or Meals on Wheels -- just opportunities to serve their neighbor. We can't put love in somebody's heart, but we certainly can help somebody channel their love. And that was the purpose of the website.

And you can search my hometown. They tell me that if you get on Crawford, Texas, you'll find that the local Humane Society seeks volunteer pet groomers -- which makes Barney really nervous. (Laughter.)

This is just one of 4 million volunteer opportunities on the USA Freedom Corps web site. Isn't that interesting? There are 4 million opportunities for somebody who wants to serve to say, here's how I can help. And so I urge our fellow citizens to go to the website and find out if there's not something that'll interest you, something that'll give you a chance to serve something greater than yourself.

USA Freedom Corps fosters a culture of service by encouraging the private sector to step forward. We got what we call the pro bono challenge, which encourages corporate professionals to donate their services to charities and nonprofits. That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it, to encourage corporate America to not only serve their shareholders, but serve the communities in which they exist.

One really interesting, innovative idea came out of IBM this year. IBM employees will donate millions of dollars of service to charities in the U.S., as well as technology projects in developing nations. They tell me that this work would cost $250 million if IBM's devoted employees were charging, and not providing for free. I want to thank the CEO of IBM, Sam Palmisano, who is with us today. Sam, thank you very much for coming. (Applause.) And I encourage corporate America to figure out ways that they can serve to make America a better place.

Another key component of USA Freedom Corps is our effort to keep track of Americans' service to others. I mean, it's one thing to talk about it, it's another thing to measure, to kind of see how we're doing. In 2002, this administration became the first to conduct a regular survey of volunteerism through the U.S. Census Bureau. Because we've begun to measure, we know that nearly 61 million Americans now give their time to help their neighbors. Isn't that interesting? Sixty-one million of our fellow citizens volunteer. (Applause.)

We've also launched new national programs and enhanced others to help our citizens answer the call to service. For example, we helped Americans answer the call by creating the Citizen Corps. (Applause.) Sounds like quite a few members have shown up. (Laughter.) And we are glad you're here.

For those of you who don't know what the Citizen Corps is, it's a way for people to volunteer to help respond to disasters. This was set up right after September the 11th. Americans have formed community emergency response teams -- (applause) -- there you go -- fire corps, medical reserve corps, neighborhood watch groups. Today there are nearly 1 million Citizen Corps volunteers nationwide. (Applause.)

And one of those volunteers is County Judge Ed Emmett from Harris County, Texas. (Applause.) So let me tell you about what the Citizen Corps of Harris County did. So Katrina hits, there's about 200,000 Gulf Coast residents headed into the Houston area. The Citizen Corps showed up. Volunteers came to process evacuees, to help treat the ill and injured, and to help settle storm victims in permanent housing.

Here's what Ed said -- I've known him for a long time, by the way -- the Judge said,
"That's just what members of the Citizen Corps do -- they take care of their neighbors." And Judge, I want to thank you, and all of the members of the Citizen Corps nationwide for taking care of your neighbors. (Applause.)

We've helped Americans answer the call by creating a program called Volunteers for Prosperity. This initiative matched skilled American professionals with service opportunities -- a lot of them in the developing world. This year we mobilized more than 43,000 doctors, teachers, engineers and other skilled volunteers. That's a pretty good start for an important program, it seems like to me. These men and women save babies from malaria on the continent of Africa. They bring modern information technology to Afghanistan. They live out one of America's strongest beliefs -- that to whom much is given, much is required.

One of those people who is a member of this important team is Zach Harvey. He serves on the prosthetics staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. When he isn't -- (applause) -- let me finish with old Zach. (Laughter.) When he isn't busy helping our wounded warriors, he's putting his skills to use in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic as a Volunteer for Prosperity. He works with pediatric cancer patients who've had a limb amputated as part of their treatment. He and his team of volunteers fit the children with new limbs and they pass on their skills to other care-givers.

He says the only payment he receives is the pride that comes with children -- seeing children walk again. And Zach, we are proud to have you here and thank you for your service. (Applause.) Zach doesn't want anybody to look at him -- (laughter) -- but you can't help it when you're that kind of kind man. Appreciate it.

By the way, both the Citizen Corps and Volunteers for Prosperity have been very effective programs. And I really believe Congress needs to make these good programs permanent. (Applause.)

We've also helped answer the call to service by strengthening AmeriCorps. (Applause.) This is a program that matches dedicated volunteers with hundreds of private charitable institutions. AmeriCorps members sign up for one-year commitments with the idea of strengthening their communities by teaching adults how to read or improving health care or helping the homeless put a roof over their heads. This is a good program that was started by my predecessor, President Clinton.

After 9/11, we tried to make this program more effective -- in other words, to help the dollars allocated go further. Today, more than 74,000 people serve their fellow citizens through AmeriCorps. (Applause.) I have met AmeriCorps volunteers all over our country and they're very inspiring Americans.

One such volunteer is Emily Greene. After college, she enlisted in the program to serve with the Schools of Hope Literacy Project in Madison, Wisconsin. Through the Schools of Hope, Emily has recruited hundreds of volunteers to teach children how to read. What kind of -- what a wonderful gift. When somebody says, "How can I help serve America," how about teaching a child to read as a lasting contribution to the future of our country? (Applause.)

Madison's public elementary schools are improving, the achievement gap is narrowing. And Emily, it must make you feel great to leave a lasting contribution, and we are glad you're here on behalf of AmeriCorps. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

We've also helped others serve by expanding the Peace Corps. (Applause.) So, see, you don't know what I know -- that every time I go to an embassy overseas and I mention anything about the Peace Corps, and there happens to be a Peace Corps contingent -- they give that same kind of yell. (Laughter.) Peace Corps volunteers are incredibly motivated people and it's a fabulous program.

The number of Peace Corps volunteers has increased. We've reopened 13 -- reopened programs in 13 countries. This is a vital program. There are about 8,000 Peace Corps members that are fighting AIDS in Africa, training poor workers to start their own businesses in Latin America, they're teaching English to children in Asia. What they're doing is they're showing the rest of the world the compassionate heart of the American citizen. I mean, we are a compassionate nation and the Peace Corps does a fabulous job of advancing that compassion.

Praya Baruch is with us today. After college Praya spent two years in Ghana working with people who are HIV-positive, training religious leaders to provide community-based care, and educating young people about HIV preparation. She is now on the staff of the Peace Corps. She represents the 8,000 people who are on the front lines of helping people deal with some of the most difficult problems in the world. Praya, we are honored you're here and I want to thank the Peace Corps. (Applause.)

There are other ways to help Americans answer the call to service. We have got what we call the Faith Based and Community Initiative -- (applause) -- through which we've empowered Americans to volunteer through their churches and congregations.

You know, I believe that if a program is successful, government ought to support it. And I believe if it takes faith to help solve some of the most intractable problems, government ought not to fear the influence of faith in our society, we ought to welcome the influence of faith in our society. (Applause.)

Laura -- who is not here, but sends her best wishes -- has rallied thousands of volunteers to help at-risk children through Helping America's Youth Initiative. We've encouraged volunteerism by holding up examples of our volunteers. You know, to date, 1.1 million Americans have received the President's Volunteer Service Award. That may not seem like a big deal to some people, but when you get one and you show it to people you're working with, they say, how do I get one of those? (Laughter.) What do I need to do? Well, what you need to do is serve your community by volunteering and help make somebody's life better. (Applause.)

Volunteerism is strong in the country. But the truth of the matter is, the farther we've gotten away from 9/11, that memory has begun to fade. And some are saying, well, maybe I don't need to volunteer now. Maybe the crisis has passed. The aftermath of 9/11 isn't nearly as intense as it was. And my call to people is, there's always a need. You should be volunteering not because of 9/11, but you should be volunteering because our country needs you on a regular basis.

We can use your help. There are citizens who say, I need love. Government can pass law, but it cannot put love into somebody's heart. Oftentimes that helps when somebody puts their arm around you and say, how can I help you, brother, or sister? What can I do to make your life better?

And so today I call upon our fellow citizens to devote 4,000 hours over your lifetime in service to your country. You'll become a better person for it, and our society will be more healthy as a result of it. You know, there's an old adage that says, you can bring hope to the lives of others, but the life you enrich the most will probably be your own. (Applause.)

I've witnessed the amazing phenomenon of volunteerism throughout my travels in this country. At nearly every stop, I make it a point to meet a local volunteer selected by the USA Freedom Corps at the steps of Air Force One. After they get over the initial shock of seeing me come off the plane -- (laughter) -- I love to ask them what they're doing, what are you doing to make your community a better place?

One such volunteer is a young woman I met in Pittsburgh named Kristen Holloway. She started a program called Operation Troop Appreciation. It started off as kind of a small program, just an idea, a desire to make a statement. Her group collects everything from DVDs and phone calls -- cards to musical instruments and sports gear. So far, they have sent care packages to more than 40,000 men and women serving in the front lines in this war against the extremists. (Applause.)
Kristen, we're glad you're here. Thank you for -- by the way, you're representing a lot of people here in this audience and around the country who have had -- I have the honor of meeting as volunteers at the foot of Air Force One.

I want to thank you all for showing up when I show up. Generally, the weather is nice. Sometimes it's not so nice. But nevertheless you're there with your smiling face. And you inspire me. You really do lift up my spirits to meet people who are so dedicated that they are willing to take time out of their lives to help somebody in need. And I hope by getting you on the front page of your newspapers, that you inspire others to show up and serve America by volunteering.

But I want to tell you what a soldier wrote to Kristen's group. A soldier wrote back after getting one of the packages and said, "My heart soars with pride to represent a country filled with such wonderful people as [you]." That was the thank you note that Kristen's group got.

Well, my heart soars with pride as well to be in the presence of those who are lifting up souls and helping mend hearts. I want to thank you for what you're doing. I am incredibly optimistic about the future of our country. And the reason I am is because I've seen firsthand the love and the compassion and the decency of our fellow citizens.

May God bless you. May God bless the armies of compassion.

And now please welcome my buddy, Michael W. Smith. (Applause.)

END 1:44 P.M. EDT


Landline, Cellphone, Email

A classroom parent mentioned they wanted to receive any important notices by email and not using the phone tree.

A phone tree? That is so 70’s.

However, it is important to remember that some people are still “stuck in the 70’s” using old technology. Not everyone advances at the same pace. Not everyone has a cell phone.

If this organization were to go to a unified alerting system, which is the current trend with technology, there is one small problem. This organization has problems with email and their internet provider almost on a weekly basis.

A further dependence on technology might not be the best immediate solution for them.

This brings up several major issues for the school, how do they handle emergency alerting? What happens if something happens to the building and all the records are inside? Can the parents be contacted?

But the real question, which came up as a result of all this, what is their emergency plan for the school? If such a plan were in place, then how to handle student emergency records would not be an issue. It would also be clearly documented the process for taking care of the students and where they might be relocated.

With all these questions that still remain, where do we start?

Understanding the processes that are in place, making sure that everyone knows them, looking at the legal requirements for an emergency plan at a school, and working with professionals to meet those requirements. Then, later in the process, leverage the technology to support those operational business requirements.

We will leave testing the process or conducting exercises for a discussion for another day.

Once you have all of this figured out, what about the company you work for?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Web 2.0 Facebook and MySpace? The Solution For Trouble?

Have you considered using Facebook or MySpace during an emergency?

Why would you? You probably have the impression that those websites are just for youth to socialize and there is no benefit to government or businesses?

Think again.

During the next major emergency, have someone search the name of the disaster and see how quickly a group is created and how many people will discuss the incident.

While you might say it is not the official information and is inaccurate.

Would you not want to know that? After all, members of the press are monitoring those websites, as well as members of the public. Shouldn't you?

CPTV special underscores need for emergency services volunteers

This underscores the essential need for community volunteers, such as CERT provides.
CPTV's On Watch: Connecticut's Emergency Service Volunteers (

Ric Skinner

More info:

From Big Medicine (

Connecticut: CPTV special underscores need for emergency services volunteers
[Sep 9 Hartford]--Imagine if you called to report a fire or needed an ambulance and no one responded. Unthinkable? Many fear it is a real possibility.

The frightening scenario as well as solutions will be examined and discussed during the live September 11 broadcast of the CPTV documentary: "On Watch: Connecticut's Emergency Service Volunteers."

"This is a great opportunity for the public to become aware of the emergency needs in their communities and around the state," Governor Rell said. "There are many Connecticut citizens who know they can make a real difference and want to volunteer. This informative documentary will point them in the right direction."

The two-hour program will air at 8 p.m. and dozens of Connecticut's emergency service volunteers will be available to answer the public's questions and offer information about becoming a volunteer.

The documentary examines the importance and impact of Connecticut's emergency service volunteers, explores the issues behind the challenges of recruitment and retention and profiles methods to attract and sustain citizen volunteers.

The film examines several emergency situations including the 2005 Avon Mountain crash, the devastating Peachtree Apartments fire in Norwich in April, the July drownings of a father and son in Voluntown and a search-and-rescue operation at Case Mountain in Manchester in August.

"In about 70 percent of communities statewide, volunteers are the first line of defense for a host of emergencies – fire, emergency medical, manmade and natural disasters, terrorist threats and water rescue," said Commissioner James M. Thomas from the Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security. "We hope the program inspires people to volunteer."

During the broadcast, viewers can call in on a toll-free number and talk with volunteers from various emergency organizations including EMS, FIRE, Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), Medical Reserve Corp. (MRC), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Emergency Management, Police Explorers, Red Cross, Salvation Army, State Animal Rescue Team (SART), Civil Air Patrol, and Amateur Radio. The toll-free phone number is: 877-962-5646.

The program will be rebroadcast without live call-in segments on:

• Sunday, September 14, 2008 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on MyTV9.
• Saturday, September 27 at 11:30 a.m. on CPTV
• Sunday, September 28 at 6 p.m. on CPTV

(During rebroadcasts, callers can access information on recruitment by phoning 2-1-1 or 1-800-FIRE-LINE)

"On Watch: Connecticut's Emergency Service Volunteers" is a CPTV Connecting Our Communities initiative in partnership with the State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Citizen Corps, the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Public Health Foundation of Connecticut. Additional support comes from the Torrington Medical Reserve Corps.

Update on C-130 Military Aircraft

This summer, Neighbors Helping Neighbors featured some of the emergency and disaster response programs we worked with in Davao City in the Mindanao region of the Philippines.

The front page of the Sun Star newspaper provides an update on the C-130 crash that we have been featuring the response activities on this website.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you?

Shared by Jimmy Shea, a U.S. Marine.

September 11 - What are you doing today?

In honor of September 11, why not spend some time volunteering at a local fire station or with a community volunteer group that might also be used to mobilize volunteers in a major emergency or disaster.

Something else you might consider is taking some training on Weapons of Mass Destruction/Terrorism.

Another great offering in partnership with the American Red Cross. Some restrictions apply.

The training can be accessed from the following website:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two ways of looking at everything

Earlier, we featured a story about emergency related websites in Canada and some of the challenges we face as residents, business travelers, and tourists.

It is a good thing we do not have this problem in the United States. Or do we?

Recently, we received an email from a student who was looking to volunteer with a local police explorer program. She reached out to us through the contact form on this website, which allows our readers to send a message through Facebook. When we asked her why she reached out to us, she said she did a Google search.

So maybe the Ontario recommendation might not be that far off.

Something to think about.

Google, The Ultimate Emergency Preparedness Solution?

Prior to the presentations at Showcase Ontario, we spent time looking for specific emergency management websites in Ontario, with some but limited success.

It was obvious that the opening page of did not have any emergency management information. Here is the current opening page, maybe you can find it?

When speaking with representatives in the EMO booth, they agreed it was not there, and mentioned that all of the ministries try to get on the website. He said that you
just needed to take a few extra steps. You will easily find that unless you know what you are looking for ahead of time, that going to the website will probably give you a challenge to find anything on emergency management and you will get easily frustrated.

Do not take our word for it, if you are an emergency manager; ask a family member or someone off the street to find readiness information. Prove us wrong.

Does that mean that emergency preparedness and notification is lower priority in parts of Canada? Do disasters not occur in Canada? We all know that is not the case.

That being said, the question was asked, so how do I get the information. Could you please show us those "few extra steps?" We clicked down and were unable to find it. Too much frustration.

As this approach did not work, the conversation quickly changed to find us the information we were looking for, without knowing the exact website.

It was suggested that we "Google" Ontario Emergency Management and start from there. That search did result in the website we were looking for.

So to get the information, you have to make the effort to get the information, and there is no or very limited push to give you the information. In order to be prepared, you need to know you need to be prepared. Expect the unexpected? How does someone
do that?

However, many solutions such as citizen alerting could not be found. That is because beyond an alert system on the news, both radio and television, there is no text or phone based alerting system.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Good Morning from Showcase Ontario - Downtown Toronto

Thank you everyone who attended the "Stop! We Have An Emergency! Lessons Learned from a Global Citizen" featured presentation this morning at Showcase Ontario.

Please send an email if you are interested in receiving a copy of the presentation.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Incident Command System (ICS) and other material is also available.

We will also be in the exhibit area, in IBM Booth 701, this afternoon and tomorrow, if you would like to see a demonstration or talk more about the topic.

And remember when developing a system, are you including your citizens in the planning process? And do all of your systems integrate together? And if there was an emergency, would you know?

Also make sure to stop by the Emergency Management Ontario booth.

Too busy to volunteer? Some other options to giveback.

Several people mentioned they are too busy to volunteer, but want to help in a disaster.

Organizations could use your help throughout the year, not just in a disaster.

Did you know that organizations, such as the Red Cross do not receive money from the government? They are funded through donations.

  • Consider donating blood.
  • Consider emptying your loose coin bank and donating it.
  • Consider taking that old cell phone you have not used for years and donate that.
  • Are you about to purchase a new car? You can donate your vehicle as well.

Here are some local ideas on how to give back to the community, without taking much, if any of your time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Red Cross Volunteers Recognized for Hurricane Response

The American Red Cross was recognized this morning by the Chairman at the local Board of Supervisors meeting during Emergency Preparedness Month Proclamation for their efforts during recent Hurricane Response.

Several articles of local Red Cross volunteer teams responding in our community and other areas across the United States can be found on the American Red Cross of the National Capital Region website. These are just some of the many volunteers that responded across the nation.

If you are interested in making a difference in your community, consider volunteering with the American Red Cross.

You never know when you may need their services.

September 11th Commemoration

Readers of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog to participate again this year in the September 11th Commemoration.

It will take place today at the 9/11 Memorial Grove and is open to the public.

In the National Capital Region, local volunteers were some of those that responded to the Pentagon and World Trade Center. This is one way to honor all these people and the victims of the attacks.

There are many other communities that are also honoring their people throughout the week.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Red Cross makes a difference in disasters and every day!

As we continue with National Preparedness Month 2008, who thought it would be National Call To Action Month.

Recently the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) website featured a Regional Disaster Coordination Center (RDCC) video showing some of the services that were offered during recent storms through the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area.

Take a few minutes to view the Regional Disaster Coordination Center (RDCC) video.

If you are interested in disaster response, training, public awareness, making a difference in people's lives and want to get your hands dirty, then you should take a few minutes and consider volunteering through your local Red Cross Chapter.

From a local fire with residents displaced to a major disaster, the Red Cross is there!

Many chapters offer DAT (Disaster Action Team) Camp training, which covers:

  • Fulfilling Our Mission
  • EIS Orientation
  • Mass Care
  • Client Casework
  • Shelter Operations
  • Shelter Simulation

Consider getting trained, volunteering and responding through an organization where it all started.

American Red Cross

Unlike other organizations that might take months or years before your training is put to use, gain skills through the Red Cross that you can put to use right away!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

International Youth Leader joins Neighbors Helping Neighbors Leadership Team

As many Neighbors Helping Neighbors readers know, we are a strong supporter of including youth in our programs.

As part of National Preparedness Month 2008, we are pleased to add Michael Esguerra as a member of Neighbors Helping Neighbors Leadership Team. Michael will be sharing best practices from our next generation of leaders, serving as an International Youth Representative.

While visiting the Philippines, we had the opportunity to work with Michael through the Philippines National Red Cross, University of Mindanao, and the Kadayawan festival.

The following is an article that appeared in Sunstar newspaper.

By Henrylito D. Tacio

IF you're a student and Michael M. Esguerra doesn't ring a bell to you, then you are not doing your homework lately. This 18-year-old Dabawenyo is the country's vice president of the Red Cross -National Youth Council.

During the national congress held in San Fernando, La Union last year (which he attended as one of the eight delegates from Davao City), Mike – as he is fondly called by his friends and colleagues – was chosen as the second most important position during a contested election.

"I did not expect to be the vice president," he says. "It was really hard to get a national position because there were three of us from Mindanao who were vying: one from General Santos, another from Cotabato and myself from Davao."

During the election, the body has to select first area coordinators before they are nominated for a national position in the youth council. "It's like in the Congress," Mike explains. "We have to run first as representatives of our districts. Once elected, he can now join the House of Congress, were the house speaker and other positions will be elected among members."

Mike won as coordinator of Area 9, which is composed of 10 city chapters in Mindanao. "First I was shocked when I emerged the winner," he admits. "It was like I was riding a roller coaster. I couldn't explain my feeling at that time." (His term will end by 2009.)

Just like the character Peter Parker of Spiderman distinction, with great power comes responsibility. And Mike is very aware of that. "I know I will have a lot of sacrifices to do because I am no longer an ordinary youth volunteer. I am leader and I have a great responsibility with my fellow youths."

As vice president, he has the responsibility to coordinate all chapter youth councils under his jurisdiction, mostly in Mindanao. "We have done many things already like intensifying all of the Red Cross Youth programs. I am also the chairman of the HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse Prevention Education program and we have conducted symposia and seminars on these youth problems. We are also involved in several projects like recruiting young blood donors. Last October, we were awarded as one of the ten most outstanding Red Cross youth councils in the Philippines."

Another responsibility as vice president: He has to attend national meetings of the council. Only 18, Mike has the pleasure of going to other parts of the country. He considers Subic (in Zambales) and Baguio as the most memorable places he has visited. "Subic was really beautiful. The place was also peaceful and the people were well-disciplined. In Baguio, foods were affordable and you can buy well-made handicrafts."

He also could not forget the Enchanted Kingdom in Laguna. "I felt I was a kid all over again," he says. "It was a super fun experience."

In all his travels, though, he is very proud to be someone from Davao. "I don't only bring the name of Davao but also the voice of our youths here," he says. "I want them to know that even if we are from the southern part of the country, we have lots of potentials here."

Being a youth leader, Mike urges: "I think today's youths should be more creative and get involved in what is happening to our country. They have to make wise decisions and be pro-active because they are the people that will shape this country in the future."

How he was involved as a youth volunteer in Red Cross was an interesting story. "I am now in my fifth year serving this organization," he says. "I started when I was in high-school but I never thought of becoming a member of the Red Cross. However, I didn't want to join the Citizen Army Training and there was no other option but to sign up with the Red Cross. I was elected as public relation officer when I was in my second year until I graduated from Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High-School in Matina."

When Mike entered college at the University of Mindanao, a former president of the Davao City chapter of Red Cross Youth asked him if he wanted to serve the UM-council. "I was elected as the president of the UM council when I was in second year college," he says. And it was this time that "I realized and was inspired to serve this great organization for my fellow youths. I am aware that I have lots of shortcomings as a leader but the good thing is we are helping others and we have inspired other youths to help. Achievements like that are priceless."

As if those activities with the Red Cross are not enough, Mike is also the president of the Young Marketers Society of UM's Business Administration department. Although he is still a third (year) student and only 18 years old, he was elected as the leader of the society. "I always believe that age doesn't matter," he says. "I think being young is an advantage, since we are more dynamic, more active, and more creative and we know the taste of other people, especially the youths."

The (YMS or my group ) society has done several programs and projects for its members. "We conducted various seminars to equip our knowledge in marketing," he says. Early this year, the society held the "Marketing Week 2008"— with the theme "4P's –Passion, Patience, Perseverance, and Progression" – at the UM Quadrangle Area, Bolton Street, Davao City. "The event was totally engaging and a fruitful experience for all of us."

Mike is also the auditor of the Davao City Junior Marketing Association and chairman of the ways and mean committee of the working youth center program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Although he is still a student, he is also working as field reporter and news writer of DXUM's 'Radio Ukay' program. In fact, he is a member of Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas until 2010. He also writes for a local daily.

Mike is the eldest of three children of Daniel and Annabelle Esguerra. Although he was born in Bacoor, Cavite, he grew up in Davao where his parents are now engaged in a small business retailing aquarium fishes.

His final words on today's youth: "I think those young people are the most vulnerable. They are vulnerable to several temptations. They are also influenced by other bad elements of our society."

Michael can be reached at

Ric Skinner joins the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Leadership Team

The Neighbors Helping Neighbors started almost one year ago as part of National Preparedness Month 2007. Since then, we have grown from a local resource to sharing best practices to every state and over 65 countries internationally.

As part of National Preparedness Month 2008, we are pleased to add Ric Skinner as a member of Neighbors Helping Neighbors Leadership Team. Ric will be sharing best practices from teams across the United States, serving as a National Representative.

Ric Skinner is a volunteer GIS Advisor to the Tri-EPIC Regional Emergency Planning Committee for four towns and hospital in south central MA. He is a member of the Sturbridge (MA) CERT and is actively trying to organize the CERTs in the four towns into the Tri-EPIC Regional CERT.

He is a Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) with 35+ years experience gained in hospital/ healthcare, healthcare preparedness, emergency management/ disaster preparedness, state cancer registry, environmental assessment, fisheries biology, wetlands delineation & mitigation, biomonitoring of wastewater effluents, electric utility industry, environmental permitting, and probably a few others he has neglected to mention.

Ric has recently started The Stoneybrook Group to consult locally, regionally and nationally in the above mentioned areas and is very interested in consulting opportunities. He also enjoys outdoor photography, wooden ship modeling, small stream restoration, and has recently received a grant to research, GPS and map historic assets in Sturbridge.

Additional information about Ric can be found in the Sturbridge Times magazine. He can be reached at

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Voluntourism - Today's Youth Making a Difference

Earlier, we shared an article about Disaster Tourism. Why not take a different look at Tourism and Volunteers?

Michael Esguerra, located in the Philippines, previously submitted a Neighbors Helping Neighbors Red Cross Youth article. He is also a student, volunteer, and leader.

In the spirit of volun-Tourism

The recent Kadayawan sa Dabaw was indeed successful. As usual, many tourists flocked to the city to witness the annual event. Each of these tourists – and even those from Davao themselves – have their own needs as they visited the city. This was the reason why another highlight of the recent festival launched a new kind of volunteerism that gave assistance to visitors.

For the very first time, the Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) and the City Government forged together to come up with an assistance counter that gave "avenue to young people to voluntarily render their time in the spirit of volunteerism."
Called the Kadayawan Tourist Assistance Counter (KTAC), it is the city's answer to the needs of tourists – both local and international – especially during the celebration of Kadayawan.
Mikee Aportadera, KTAC coordinator, said the team of volunteers addressed the immediate needs and requirements of tourists in the city. He added that volunteers were taken from the various tourism and hospitality management major students in Davao City.
According to CTOO, over 40 young volunteers passed the interview from different schools who qualified to give assistance to people who need help during the celebration. The volunteers were chosen based on their knowledge about the city and the Kadayawan Festival.

The CTOO wanted volunteers who were young and energetic who will not only assist the visitors but promote the city as well. The agency also believes that this group of volunteers plays a vital role in the festival as they would not only market the city but likewise as fast counter assistance on the queries of the tourists whether about the events or places to visit while in the city.

The volunteers were given the chance to interact with tourists and experience in assisting them.

KTAC volunteers were assigned to various establishments such in malls, hotels, Davao City International Airport, and Davao City Overland Transport Terminal. The tourist assistants also helped the festival's main activities especially in areas where tourists were expected to flock.

The CTOO said this type of volunteerism will not be only use during the Kadayawan but also on other activities of the city.

At the end of the day, volunteers feels great satisfaction even they were not expecting any remuneration but the experience is priceless. In deed, this young people have the spirits of VolunTourism.

Disaster Tourism? Meeting the needs of interested citizens?

The Common Ground Relief website, which was published in a Facebook group, brings light to the concept, Disaster Tourism.
"Isabelle Cossart was still evacuated in Baton Rouge when she got a call from the Army Corps of Engineers asking her to give some Japanese engineers a tour of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation.
That was October 2005 and she’s been giving hurricane tours ever since."
The complete Hurricane Tours article written by Jessica Grillanda discusses Disaster Tourism in more detail.
"Isabelle Cossart says many people have also gone on from her tours to join volunteer teams involved in rebuilding. But she says she looks forward to the day when she won’t be hosting the disaster tours anymore. “I’ll be so glad when I can go back to showing nice things,” says Cossart."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Storm fast approaching, Neighbors Helping Neighbors Volunteers received formal notification and asked to deploy

Yesterday, we asked the question, "Should there be greater awareness of a single point for all volunteers to go to, such as"

Within 12 hours of posting Outside Looking In, Lessons Learned Before A Disaster and being requested not to self deploy, several of us have been requested to deploy to help with shelter operations for Hurricane Gustav.

How did they find us? What can you do to get involved?

The website is powered by A service of the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network.

Visit to register your skills, interests, and availability. also provides the following guidance for volunteering in a disaster:


  • Do not call organizations in the disaster area. Why?
  • Do not travel to the disaster area. Why?

Remember even if there are opportunities listed, do not self deploy to these assignments, unless you receive formal notification.

If you are requested to deploy, please send us your experiences, so we can share them with other readers.

Visit to discover other non-disaster related volunteer opportunities with local and Volunteer Centers across the country.