March 5, 2017  |  Boston & Cambridge Education Health UpTogether Fund

Helen Nichols

I began taking FEMA online training courses (which are free) so that I could educate myself and give information and training to families regarding emergency preparedness and the importance of being proactive in case of disaster. The plan was to have club members have and give information to the community and engage with the community through events that promote emergency preparedness. As I saw disasters across the country in the news, I knew clearly this information and training was needed in the vulnerable communities.

The club, which has evolved into a wisdom circle, takes place whenever it needs to be mobilized around an event. We meet about 15 times a year over the past four years. Sometimes for meetings centered around a specific event, other times subgroups meet that target specific issues such as grant writing, new ideas, self wellness, workshops for the club members, and announcements.

We began by having members participate in a training for the Medical Reserve Corp, which is a volunteer program run by the Public Health Commission’s office of Emergency Preparedness. Nineteen community and FII family members attended receivoing a T-shirt and a Certificate. Myself and a friend engaged the children and gave 12 children the Sesame Street Emergency Preparedness training using the age appropriate modules.

The club is open to FII families and community members. Utilizing the FII social club stipentd, we have been able to underwrite the costs of our events, as well as for baby sitting and food for participants. We decided that If we were going to volunteer to help get this message out there we needed to think about giving and having the feeling of accomplishment as our reward. The club is ongoing and we currently have 38 members who participate at their discretion and this same group particpates in other community service projects.

The club was publicized through word of mouth, flyers, email blasts and telephone texting trees. We originally only got our funding through FII social club funding (they made us a reality). In time, we received donations from group members, and now we have been funded by select agencies in the Boston area. We have Union Capital members, FII families and Community members. Most recently we have been approached by some community groups and agencies wanting to collaboratie with us to secure more funding.

I think the impact of the club has been far reaching and evolutionary. We have reached almost 1000 people with our training and they have been very positive feedback and commentary of the events and information given. The club has birthed the Four Agreements Wisdom Circle and created a venue of self awareness and social responsibility while giving high quality resources, information, and skills for family sustainability. Over 55 FII and community members have volunteered for events throughout the 4 years, There is no requirement that club members be involved at all. It is an at-will and as-needed volunteer pool.

I am very grateful to FII for their resources and the spirit of social action that has motivated myself and other families to forge ahead trying to make positive change.Thank you!

Utilized FEMAs online training to educate myself on Emergency Preparedness.

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