Leadership Cohort’s “Project Go-Pack” Builds Community Resilience and Emergency Preparedness
Katrina Upton and Paulie Hawthorne, both employees of Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation are part of the of the Wild Rivers Coast South Ford Institute Leadership Program Cohort that is nearing completion of their cohort project to place first responder resources in school classrooms and enhance community resilience in emergency situations. This fall, the cohort will be providing 138 emergency supply Go-Packs to school classrooms in Curry County, Oregon, and Smith River in Del Norte County, California. The Go-Packs are large bags that include basic medical supplies, such as space blankets, bandages, and pocket masks, to assist teachers in the care of students in the event of an emergency. The project has helped cohort members not only respond to an important community need but also serves as an important learning avenue for community work.
When initially thinking about the project, the group considered the vulnerable population of children in schools and the responsibilities teachers would face in a disaster situation. They were startled to learn that area teachers currently have no immediate assistance available in the critical period after a disaster, nor do many local parents have a plan of action if their children are at school during one.
Parents, business owners, organizations, county and city officials, and others appreciate the information about local resiliency and preparedness and have asked to become involved. One such group, Cal-Ore Life Flight, offered to guide the selection of appropriate items for the Emergency Go-Packs and has made materials for the Go-Packs available at cost. St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Brookings, a registered FEMA shelter, offered to be the fiscal sponsor for the project. The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation provided financial assistance, and the Smith River Rural Fire Protection District allowed the cohort to use one of their engines to display informational banners in July’s Azalea Festival parade to help spread the word about the project. Local businesses supporting the effort include the Pelican Bay Amateur Radio Club and the Gerald Ross Insurance company.
Recently, the cohort learned they would receive a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation, allowing the cohort to place Go-Packs in additional classrooms. Not only does the project have an impact on the surrounding communities, but cohort members also learned that FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) would like to follow the progress of Project Go-Pack as an example of a grassroots community effort