September in the U.S. is National Preparedness Month, established to raise awareness of being prepared for natural disasters and other crises. Whether we stock up on food in case of a power outage or revisit an emergency escape plan, when we take the time to be prepared to weather a crisis it has the ripple effect of making the entire community stronger. And isn’t it interesting that being prepared for the worst is kind of the same as volunteering to make things better?
Many of the reasons we volunteer to do things like read with a child, prepare income taxes or refurbish a community center so kids have a place to be active indoors are pretty similar to why we take steps to be prepared in an emergency. How so? Well, in this recent proclamation President Obama writes, “Each of us can do our part” and “we can contribute to and share in a stronger, more resilient society.” These statements are about emergency preparedness, but are also true about volunteering, about doing our part to share our strengths and improve our communities. As the proclamation about national preparedness says, “…together, with a united approach we can help lift up communities and help them emerge stronger.” That’s what volunteers do every day, not only during and after a crisis. Contributing to and sharing in a stronger society is so important that United Way made it our call-to-action: Give. Advocate. Volunteer.
On September 30th, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) is organizing “America’s PrepareAthon,” an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and communities to prepare for specific hazards through group discussions, drills, and exercises. You also might want to consider volunteering to support local first responders or become trained in first aid and emergency response in your area. Your local United Way is a good place to look for volunteer opportunities now, and throughout the year, to prepare for the worst and to lift up our communities and make them stronger.