After a disaster - how you can help not hinder
Liza Newman, Program Director for Marketing and Member Relations
As I drove home from work Monday, I heard KFOR pilot Jon Welsh describe what he was seeing happen in front of him. I knew he was talking about a tornado and its vicious assault on an Oklahoma town. I came to realize that the play by play of the devastation was to his town, his neighborhood, he was part of the story he was reporting. I heard the fear in his voice, not just because he was flying in a helicopter right next to a tornado that has been reported to be almost 2 miles wide with winds over 200 miles an hour, but also because he knew that the news from his town wasn’t going to be good.
The whole nation is once again bereft over the unimaginable grief that the residents of Moore, Oklahoma are feeling. Our collective heart is breaking with theirs; we can feel their fear, their uncertainty. We have to do something. We can’t just sit and watch the relentless news coverage. We have to help. We have to send blankets and pillows and food and water and blood. They need us.
While we’re thinking of all the possible ways we can jump in, while we’re struggling to figure out what to do, the first responders are still struggling to find the living among the wreckage. Local government officials are working to implement the disaster recovery plan that they have in place. President Obama has declared a major disaster in Oklahoma thereby starting the process to send federal aid. Non-governmental organizations have sprung into action, setting up communication, relief funds, and working with the Oklahoma officials to give them what they need to help the victims.
We can help too, but we have to let the professionals do their job. As much as we may want to organize food drives, or collect diapers, or jump in our cars and drive down to help clear debris, we must give in stages and we must give in a way that will do the most good for the people we want to help.
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management has a webpage that details the help that’s needed immediately after a disaster. Monetary donations top the list as the most useful help we can give. Visit http://www.bbb.org/us/charity to find a list of organizations you can trust to use your donation to help. To see a list of trusted charities that can specifically help in Moore, visit http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1567.
Rev. Richard W. Norman, of the Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, has asked that we “allow the first responders to do the work they need to do. Many unsolicited volunteers are showing up at the Incident Command Center in Moore.” The national office of Voluntary Organizations in Disaster asks that volunteers remember these facts:
- 1.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.
- 2.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.
To learn more about long-term recovery after a disaster, read Lessons in Community Recovery.
We want to help. We want to fix things. We want to do all we can to alleviate the suffering of our fellow humans. And we can, we just need to listen to those who provide help every day when they tell us what they need.
Just a pebble
Mary Jane Eisenhauer, Ed.D.
Purdue University North Central
Just a pebble. That’s all it takes to make a ripple in the pond. Working with early childhood education students at Purdue University North Central, I use this metaphor often to remind students of the power they have to change the world. A smile or a kind word can turn around the day for a young child. A new set of books or art materials can update a classroom. An interactive outdoor park for families can transform a neighborhood. The ripples from these pebbles move outward and enhance our studies, enrich our lives, and impact our communities.
Inspiring Lifelong Active Citizenship
One way institutions of higher education across the nation are developing lifelong active citizens is through hosting Alternative Break programs. Break Away is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports the development of quality alternative programs by providing training and information to colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations interested in creating lifelong active citizens. According to their latest study, over 17,000 students contributed nearly 625,000 hours of service to communities through Alternative Break programs in 2012 alone.
Listen Up! We Need to Strengthen Our Partnership
When I was a kid, I heard time and again that I wasn’t a good listener.
“J.R. would have so much talent, if only he’d listen,” teachers would write. “You never listen,” my mom would say.
I can’t recall when I started listening, but I reckon you have to be a bad listener, and that it has to be pointed out, before you can see the error of your ways. I guess as we grow older, and into professionals, it’s a learned talent that continues to improve over time. Even mid-career, I continue to hone my listening skills.
Becoming Glocal: I think I might
By J.R. Jamison
In late September 2011, Indiana Campus Compact co-sponsored the 4th International Symposium on Service-Learning at the Ningbo Institute of Technology in Ningbo, China. The Symposium was developed in 2005 as a partnership between the University of Indianapolis and Stellenbosch University (South Africa), and since that time has grown to a collaboration of four organizations with the addition of Indiana Campus Compact and the Ningbo Institute of Technology. This biennial Symposium attracts roughly 150 participants from all corners of the globe to share service engagement program ideas and research projects. This year our little corner of the globe, in Indiana, was well-represented with participants, and in some cases delegations, from Butler University, Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC), Purdue University—West Lafayette, Purdue University North Central, and the University of Indianapolis. I, too, as a representative of Indiana Campus Compact, attended this Symposium, and I’ll tell you why.