Because of the exceptional circumstances of the five year anniversary of September 11, 2001, the Spiritual Oasis has shifted its focus over the previous few days. It is my intention to return to inspirational essays based on the Scriptures with my next post. Before I do, however, I would like to touch on one additional thought related to disaster preparedness.
The question “What can I do?” was asked quite often in the days and weeks following these horrific events of 9/11. Many people responded with exceptional service. It truly was amazing to see first-hand the outpouring of love and compassion for the citizens on New York City. I can remember standing in a Salvation Army tent which was located on Church Street watching a member of the New York City Police Department read the handmade cards on the walls. Judging by their appearance they had been crafted with love by children. They likely had come from far-and-wide. Though it was not a major thing, someone, somewhere had asked and answered the simple question: What can I do? Millions upon millions of people have done similarly. Many lives have been blessed by these efforts, too.
Now, it seems to me that people are asking, “What more can I do?” This is a good thing, because the spirit of volunteerism that has grown during the past few years is one of the good things that has come from the events of this terrible day. With this in mind I offer two suggestions:
(1) Whatever you do, don’t let the circumstances of life, no matter how dire or disastrous, cause you to take your eyes off of God. This is the key to Homeland Security, a point that is brought to light in Rebecca Miller’s post for today. You can read it by clicking HERE. So, I urge you to heed the Holy Spirit’s exhortation through the Apostle Paul who wrote, “1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
(2) Volunteer. There are so many possibilities. I’m hesitant to list specifics. But, you might consider the following possibilities:
— Your local church (please supply your own link here)
— Citizen Corps. This is where I’ve found many opportunities to serve. This is actually an umbrella organization. There are numerous different areas of service that fall under the auspices of Citizen Corps. These are:
– Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)– This program educates people about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. Using their training, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event and can take a more active role in preparing their community. The program is administered by DHS.
– Fire Corps – This program promotes the use of citizen advocates to enhance the capacity of resource-constrained fire and rescue departments at all levels: volunteer, combination, and career. Citizen advocates can assist local fire departments in a range of activities including fire safety outreach, youth programs, and administrative support. Fire Corps provides resources to assist fire and rescue departments in creating opportunities for citizen advocates and promotes citizen participation. Fire Corps is funded through DHS and is managed and implemented through a partnership between the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
– Neighborhood Watch Program – This incorporates terrorism awareness education into its existing crime prevention mission, while also serving as a way to bring residents together to focus on emergency preparedness and emergency response training. Funded by DOJ, Neighborhood Watch is administered by the National Sheriffs’ Association.
– Medical Reserve Corps – This strengthens communities by helping medical, public health and other volunteers offer their expertise throughout the year as well as during local emergencies and other times of community need. MRC volunteers work in coordination with existing local emergency response programs and also supplement existing community public health initiatives, such as outreach and prevention, immunization programs, blood drives, case management, care planning, and other efforts. The MRC program is administered by HHS.
– Volunteers in Police Service – This program works to enhance the capacity of state and local law enforcement to utilize volunteers. VIPS serves as a gateway to resources and information for and about law enforcement volunteer programs. Funded by DOJ, VIPS is managed and implemented by International Association of Chiefs of Police.
If you would like to volunteer for service in one of these programs you can begin the process online by clicking on this LINK.
To see a practical example of what such volunteerism looks like in action I invite you to visit the web site of an organization in Austin, Texas. It is known as United States Homeland Emergency Response Organization (US Hero Organization). The chief of this group just happens to be my cousin, Bruce White. Though our life-paths have seldom crossed, it amazes me that we are both integrally involved in emergency preparedness and emergency response efforts.
US HERO is an outgrowth of an idea and an organization. What is now US HERO, started as local volunteer search and rescue team in the Austin, Texas area; this was Search and Rescue, Team 8. When the founders of SAR Team 8 saw the desire for other people to participate in our missions and the relative lack of an organization to do so, they founded US HERO. US HERO is a chartering organization that enables people to start up and operate volunteer emergency services units in different areas that all benefit from associating. All Response Units of US HERO agree to abide by a standard training and certification program, to operate with standardized operational protocols, and to wear a distinguishing uniform. Response Units can call on other US HERO units when they need help, which we call mutual assistance.
US HERO, Inc. and SAR Team 8, Inc. merged and are now known as US HERO, Inc. SAR Team 8 is now the designation of the South Austin Response Unit of US HERO. US HERO is a non-profit, charitable corporation without the support of tax dollars. Funding comes from membership dues, charity events, and grants. US HERO is a partner with local and regional disaster relief organizations and performs services for governmental agencies and private disaster organizations, such as Red Cross.
© Bill Williams,September 12, 2006