A member of the Community Emergency Response Team assists an injured woman
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Points of Light Americorps Members Get Communities Nationwide Fired Up About Disaster Preparedness

January 2016


Points of Light

Affiliates join America’s PrepareAthon!SM to spotlight the importance of preparing for a host of disasters

Points of Light—the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service—mobilizes millions of people to take action and change the world. Its work includes helping local communities learn how to more quickly respond to and recover from disaster. The Community Emergency Preparedness Corps, an AmeriCorps program managed by Points of Light, teaches individuals and families how to best prepare for disaster. Community Emergency Preparedness Corps members supported Points of Light affiliates around the country by engaging their communities in preparedness activities in collaboration with America’s PrepareAthon! The participants joined the millions of people who took part in registered preparedness activities.

Community members take part in a mock disaster staged by OneOC during America’s PrepareAthon!Community members take part in a mock disaster staged by OneOC during America’s PrepareAthon!

Most Dangerous County in America Preps with OneOC 

OneOC, a Points of Light affiliate, provides volunteer services for nonprofits operating in Orange County, CA, which regularly faces severe weather and destructive natural events. In fact, Time Magazine ranks it among the most dangerous counties in America, when it comes to frequency of natural disasters.

In collaboration with America’s PrepareAthon!, OneOC organized a mock disaster in the community, simulating the effects of an earthquake. The drill activated the OneOC Emergency Volunteer Center, where participants acted as the kind of spontaneous volunteers from the community who often arrive onsite at a disaster ready to help. Participants involved in the drill learned how spontaneous volunteers can best respond, making it more likely that in the event of a real emergency, their offers of help will be better utilized and of more service to professional responders. 

“America’s PrepareAthon! helped us accomplish our mission, which is to prepare our members and residents in Orange County for disasters. It gave our members a chance to put their training into practice.”  – Christa Seiwert, a former Community Emergency Preparedness Corps member, OneOCMembers Take Local Preparedness Door to Door

Many Points of Light’s AmeriCorps members registered neighborhood canvassing projects in this year’s spring America’s PrepareAthon!, taking preparedness materials door to door in locations across the country and making people aware of local hazards. AmeriCorps members at Metro Volunteers in Denver distributed more than 560 information packets to senior, low-income, and immigrant residents, while AmeriCorps members working with OneOC distributed preparedness material during a beach cleanup in Orange County.

OneOC volunteers interview residents participating in a mock disaster in collaboration with America's PrepareAthon!OneOC volunteers interview residents participating in a mock disaster in collaboration with America's PrepareAthon!

“By canvassing, volunteers can speak directly to community members about local hazards and how the local emergency management office will contact them before and after a disaster,” said Eric Nankervis, Points of Light’s program manager for preparedness. “In a single day of action they’re providing community members with tangible information on hazards and emergency alert systems, so they can pass that information on to others.” AmeriCorps members are spreading the word, helping communities across the country become better prepared for disaster.

Outreach and Emergency Kits Help Families Get Prepared

Volunteer Houston, a Points of Light affiliate, recently participated in America’s PrepareAthon! as well. Last spring, the organization co-sponsored a preparedness event at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Volunteers helped visitors assemble approximately 1,000 emergency kits, explaining the importance of each item before placing it in the kit bag.


“Just asking people to be aware of what they will need and to assemble their kits right away is so important. It really gets people ready to take action.”  – Jason Menke, a former Community Emergency Preparedness Corps member, Volunteer Houston

Another Points of Light affiliate, VolunteerNow, helps communities in North Texas prepare for a wide range of hazards, from tornadoes and wildfires to terrorist attacks. For America’s PrepareAthon!, VolunteerNow helped lead a workshop to teach families how to plan for evacuation in the event of a fire, where to go, and how to identify alternative meeting places. VolunteerNow also helped coordinate in the April 2015 Emergency Preparedness Summit hosted by Congressman Michael Burgess in Denton, TX. Volunteers taught residents, including children, about the importance of memorizing key contact information and developing a communications plan.

“When children know what to do, emergency situations are less frightening,” said Susan Blackburn, a former Community Emergency Preparedness Corps member who worked with VolunteerNow at the event. “If anything happens, we will be ready for it.”