Friday, March 28, 2014

Team Firestopper - Onyx Edition

Hello all!

A couple months ago, I met with a gentleman in the tiny town of Onyx, California to talk about fire safety and home fire prevention. He expressed a need for his community, informing me that he and a lot of other people in the town did not have proper fire prevention utilities, such as smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Considering that much of my duties as an AmeriCorps member deal with preparedness, this struck me as something that needed to be fixed. With the help of my supervisor, Team Firestopper sprung into action. Two weeks ago, I and a group of wonderful volunteers from the Kern River Valley canvassed the Onyx community, handing out flyers with vital fire safety information to each and every home in the area. Also on these flyers was an invitation to a Community Fire Safety and Prevention Education course that I will be leading this Sunday, March 30th at Weldon Methodist Church just down the road from Onyx. 

To make it easier for the residents to attend, I allotted three shifts of these Fire Safety courses for them to choose from, the first from 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., the second from 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., and the third from 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. At the end of their shift they will take home a bag that has a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, surge protector, and a fire extinguisher inside, and they can then install and use each of these utilities in their homes, making them more resilient to home fires. I am pleased to say that in less than two weeks over 30 Kern River Valley residents have registered to attend the course! Words can’t express how excited I am to be able to teach these people the importance of fire safety, and help them all prevent home fires in their community. One of the greatest perks of my position as an AmeriCorps NPRC member with the American Red Cross is that I get an incredible amount of those warm fuzzy feelings that one gets from helping others. Thank you AmeriCorps, thank you American Red Cross, and thank you Central Valley!



Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC 2013-2014
Preparedness Coodinator
American Red Cross - Kern Chapter
samantha.minks@redcross.org

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Family Home Evening: Earthquake Scenario

Hello friends!

I'm writing today about a very important topic: Earthquake preparedness. In every presentation I give around my community, I talk about the importance of practicing your disaster plan. The "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" drill is an excellent place to start when practicing your earthquake plan. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, cover your head and neck, and hold on to whatever piece of furniture you are under. Now that you've mastered this drill, move on to something more complex. While perusing the internet this weekend, I came across the ultimate earthquake plan. I mean, this family really went all out. 

The mother in this family realized that most likely an earthquake will strike at a time of the day when her family members are spread around town. You know, she's at the store with her youngest child, her older children are in school, and her husband is at work. She came up with a scenario including the time of day, and the extent of the earthquake, and she also determined situations like a dam breaking, downed power lines, and a gas leak that would intensify the encounter. She gave each member of her family a sheet of paper with a different scenario written on it. This family had already determined their meeting places, and their plan revolved around them. I won't give you all the details, instead I'm going to give you all the link to this website so that you can read it in detail and mimic the drill with your own families. This is a must read for those of you who have not begun to think about your plan yet. It's always better to be prepared!

Here is the link: 


Just a friendly reminder, it's that time of year again when it's time to change our clocks. This means it's also time to check the batteries in our smoke alarms, rotate and check the items in our emergency preparedness kits, and also to practice our emergency plans. It's the perfect time to put this must-read to practice!


Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC 2013-2014
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross - Kern Chapter
samantha.minks@redcross.org

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Heroes


So our President, and our presidents before, has declared March Red Cross Month. What does this mean? Does this mean that we must go out and bombard the people with Red Cross everything? NO. Does it mean we will go out and make everyone Red Crossers? Well, no, but hopefully we can make some of you Red Cross Ready for anything. So what does it mean? It means we are going to try and encourage or inspire you to possibly step out of your comfort zone and be a hero. The Red Cross is taking this month to recognize the Heroes in our communities; our neighbors, brother fire fighters, brother police officers, military, the child across the street, coworkers, and yes, possibly even a 7-eleven proprietor.
Many of us grew up thinking of heroes as having super-powers and capes, and yes, some have grown up seeing heroes as those who have laid down their lives for us. By definition a hero is someone who has done something great or has been brave. Bravery can also be seen in different ways. Being brave doesn’t require you to become David and fight off a giant; it is about stepping up and doing something right, yet difficult. I have had a few different opportunities to meet local heroes; I’m not going to tell you all their stories, because you can hear about them at our Real Heroes gala on March 21, but I will tell you a few.
Fresno Fire, as far as many know, risk their lives putting out fires. Well, after helping out a family during an emergency call, the Captain realized there was one more thing they could do to help. Some joined together to build a ramp for the elderly woman living in that home. How simple a task, yet so huge in sentiment. A young autistic child playing outside helped save a woman’s life, a woman who was being attacked by a dog. A 7-eleven owner opened a small library and encouraged learning. Different acts of heroism, not the acts you would find in a comic book, but heroic acts none the less.
On Monday, a family which lost their home in a fire bravely told their story on television. How is this an act of heroism? The family told their story, not for self-recognition or sympathy, but to encourage other families to take the proper precautions in their homes. They took something that traumatized their family, turned it around and spoke of the importance of smoke detectors, not going back into the fire, and to not be afraid to accept the Red Cross’ help after a fire emergency. For this family, they hope that by speaking out, another family may be safe in the event of a fire.
If you still need your hero to have super-powers, close your eyes and imagine this; a young boy with a magical stick that fights of villainous dogs. A firefighting super trio whose undercover disguise is helping the elderly. Or a 7-eleven owner by day, but an educating crime fighter at night. Not all heroes have to come from a comic book; we can all heroes, and we have heroes all around, some are just in disguise.
We thank all Our Heroes, and remember;  a simple note, “thank you for caring,” can go a long way.

Veronica Lases  AmeriCorps NPRC Member
Preparedness Coordinator
Community Preparedness and Resilience Services

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The AmeriCorps Member: A True Life Story Series

Yesterday I went with our Kern Chapter Volunteer Coordinator Amy Mayer to speak at CSUB for first year students in the College Assistance Migrant Program. Amy was presenting information on volunteer opportunities, and I figured I would tag along, seeing as how I would never turn down an opportunity to interact with potential volunteers in our community. At the end of her presentation, the professor of the class asked if we could each share our college experiences, and how we ended up with the American Red Cross. 

I spoke of my journey through college, and explained how I felt so anxious about my future upon graduation. I also took this golden opportunity to share how I ended up where I am today, an AmeriCorps NPRC member. None of these students had heard of AmeriCorps until yesterday. I talked about a realization I had before I applied for the AmeriCorps program, explaining to them how I felt somewhat selfish. Throughout college, I was only worried about myself. I was focused on my grades, on what my next step was, on what my struggles and strengths were. Now don’t get me wrong, we have to worry about these things to get through college with flying colors, but I felt a need to give back. This need to give back played perfectly with the fact that I was unsure of what my next step in life was going to be. That’s when I discovered AmeriCorps. It was perfect! Not only would I be able to gain valuable experience in a professional work environment, learn how a large non-profit organization works, and meet and work with so many great people, I would also be taking 11 months out of my life to give back and help others who are in need. I know there are many college students out there who feel the same way I felt, and I took it upon myself to advertise the AmeriCorps program and how rewarding it is. In my opinion, everyone should join. 


You see folks, this is what we do. We honor the “A”. 


Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC 2013-2014
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross - Kern Chapter
samantha.minks@redcross.org

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Change Our Community, Change Our World

Just my luck, in the short 11-month period I've committed to national and community service, I got called into jury duty and no, I'm not kidding. Due to the surplus of citizens reporting for duty, I was dismissed early and though I wasn't expecting to take anything away from that short period of time, I learned about a basic fundamental in our society that we seem to emphasize only at certain times: community service.

You've heard it time and time again from the media, from organizations, and from this blog asking for you to commit your time, knowledge, and skills for the greater good. While I was waiting for the fate of my civic duty, I looked around and saw how distraught people were (myself, included) because they were not at work or school, being productive to society. I thought not only how citizens can give back to the community, but also what motivates someone to take action.

The time to give is now. There is no need to wait for a special community day of service to take action. There are always areas of our society that need assistance and in my humble opinion, every day can be a day of community service. To expand on that idea, it feels great to help the community and when I do, I feel that a bit of justice is served. If you're familiar with the musical "Avenue Q," this may sound familiar: "When you help others, you can't help helping yourself!"

Every single person reading this blog post can make an impact in their community, state, and nation. As it has been said before, "the need is constant." Please consider your family, friends, colleagues, peers, and neighbors and when you're ready, the community will be waiting for you.

Amitai "Tai" S. Zuckerman
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross – Tulare and Kings Counties
AmeriCorps NPRC Member 2013-2014
Community Preparedness and Resilience Services
amitai.zuckerman@redcross.org

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Are You Ready to be Helped?

Today was a special day for my AmeriCorps service and the American Red Cross in Tulare and Kings Counties. In the past few months, the Red Cross presence has grown and we now offer our outstanding programs to an wider variety of audiences. In addition to upcoming Team Firestopper Community Presentations, Kid Firestopper lessons, and Wild Firestopper programs, we now have the resources to conduct our infamous Be Red Cross Ready Presentations in Spanish right out of our Branch office in Visalia.

Let me introduce you to Nora. Nora is one of our valued Volunteers who has enough energy and enthusiasm to take complete command of any room she walks into. She is fluent in English and Spanish and this morning, she single-handedly and effortlessly conducted a Be Red Cross Ready Presentation in Spanish to English as a Second Language students in Kings County. 

Teaching families and communities how to prepare for disasters is our mission and we will continue to do so in order to alleviate the stress and fear of preparing for the worst. We are proud of our mission and we wish to extend our reach and message to all corners of Tulare and Kings Counties.

To learn about the various types of preparedness presentations we offer and to schedule your free presentation, please call the Visalia Branch at 559.732.6436.

Amitai "Tai" S. Zuckerman
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross – Tulare and Kings Counties
AmeriCorps NPRC Member 2013-2014
Community Preparedness and Resilience Services
amitai.zuckerman@redcross.org

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Do It Yourself: The Family Emergency Binder

Hello all!

We've gone over plenty of times all of the items that you want to put in your disaster preparedness kit. You’ll want the basics of course; water, non-perishable food, flashlights and batteries, a portable radio, a first aid kit, medications, and the list goes on. In the event of an emergency evacuation many of us are reluctant to leave our homes, and there are many reasons for this. Perhaps you have valuables that you couldn't bare to leave behind, or important information that you just can’t leave without such as birth certificates, passports, and social security cards. What about those photo albums full of family memories? These are all things that we can prepare for beforehand, ensuring that in the case of an emergency evacuation you can get out as soon as possible and not feel the need to go back inside. Here are some ideas! 

For all of you technologically savvy folks out there, consider scanning all of those important documents and photos onto your computer and then saving them on a thumb drive. These are inexpensive and small devices that are made to store information. Once you have everything saved onto your thumb drive, you can then attach it to a key chain or keep it inside your already prepared emergency kit. 

If you’re more of the crafty type, consider putting together a binder like this family did:  An emergency binder is a place to store all of your passports, birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, home and car insurance information, emergency cash, and family photos. It's all in one convenient place that is easy to grab on your way out the door.   

Make it your own! Cater it to you and your family's needs, and decorate it together. You could have each member of the family add an item that is important to them, or set aside a section of the binder for each family member. Remember, putting together your preparedness kit can be fun! Include all members of the family when assembling it, and make sure everyone knows where the kit is kept upon completion. 


For more ideas on Do It Yourself preparedness tips, visit http://www.pinterest.com/rebeccawhipple/preparedness-ideas/


Samantha Minks
Preparedness Coordinator
AmeriCorps NPRC 2013-2014
American Red Cross - Kern Chapter
samantha.minks@redcross.org