CHAIR'S MESSAGE-Thank you to all VEST members that joined us in spreading the message and awareness of Emergency Preparedness during the month of September - Emergency Preparedness Month as it was a timely to prepare Arlington residents, most especially the elderly populations in Arlington as we canvassed information to over 680 residents.
Another message of thanks to VEST members who offered support to possible victims of Hurricane Sandy, we appreciate your willingness to be on call in the case that we needed additional help, while understanding the importance of sheltering-in-place during the storm.
We normally witness an increase of residents with interest to volunteer post-storm and will be holding ongoing orientation sessions for any Arlington residents interested in joining VEST to help educate the community to: Be Informed, Make a Plan, Make a Kit and Get Involved. Sign up for an upcoming orientation!
2012 has proven to be a year of new meteorological vocabulary. In June, it was Derecho. Now the term Frankenstorm has been suggested by meteorologists at the National Weather Service, who were showing their Halloween spirit. If Hurricane Sandy reminds us of one thing, the importance of being prepared and planning ahead. If you have not signed up for Arlington Alert, please do so to get timely information via text, email or pager. It has been a tough week, but individuals across the Eastern Seaboard and throughout the U.S. have come together, united to support all recovery efforts. Read recovery updates from Hands On Network , and find out what Volunteer Centers in our region are doing to support these efforts.
Tips for Donating and Volunteering Responsibly
Cash is the most efficient method of donating – Cash offers voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover. Remember, unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Donate through a trusted organization – At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters, and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors. In addition to the national members, each state has its own list of voluntary organizations active in disasters. If you'd like to donate or volunteer to assist those affected by Sandy, these organizations are the best place to start.
Continue your engagement in the program and training opportunities- Immediately following a disaster, a community can become easily overwhelmed by the amount of generous people who want to help. Contacting and affiliating with an established organization will help to ensure that you are appropriately trained to respond in the most effective way.
Be safe. Do not self deploy until a need has been identified and the local community impacted has requested support. Wait until it is safe to travel to volunteer sites and opportunities have been identified. Once assigned a position, make sure you have been given an assignment and are wearing proper safety gear for the task.
Be patient. Recovery lasts a lot longer than the media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often years, after the disaster - especially when the community enters the long-term recovery period.
Understand that disaster impacted regions can be dangerous. Do NOT self-deploy as a volunteer. Showing up with good intentions and no confirmed placement, food and shelter can unintentionally overburden already stretched local resources.
Thank you for your interest in helping with Hurricane Sandy Response and Recovery efforts!
National Preparedness Month Impact
During the month of September VEST hosted, participated in and coordinated a total of 22 activities. Over 1,250 community residents were trained in disaster preparedness; this included at least 107 veterans and 117 youth. 608 individuals were trained at seven senior independent living facilities and 644 residents at preparedness community activities and events.
All participants were trained in preparedness principles and response basics, including how to download the Arlington Prepares mobile app and how to sign up for Arlington Alert. Overall, 1,000 disaster preparedness Go-Kits were distributed to Arlington residents.
Public Safety Officers from the Arlington County Fire Department, Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Fire & Rescue Association, and Office of Emergency Management participated in commemoration of the 9/11 anniversary at several Independent Living Facilities. Distinguished Public Safety Officers shared their stories as first responders on the morning of 9/11/2001.
Thank you VEST Volunteers!!!