In September, the American Red Cross Northeast PA (NEPA) region was nationally recognized for inspiring individuals and communities to come together to prepare for disasters and emergency events.
White House Champion of Change
Gail Toscano, Preparedness and Resiliency Manager for the American Red Cross NEPA Region was presented with the “Champions of Change for Community Preparedness and Resilience” award at the White House on Tuesday, September 24, 2013. The award is part of a national initiative to recognize individuals, businesses and organizations whose preparedness work inspires communities to work together to prepare for a disaster.
Eighteen individuals from across the country were honored at the White House ceremony. Toscano was honored for developing preparedness programs, led by American Red Cross volunteer preparedness teams, to help communities become self-sufficient when responding and recovering from an initial impact of a disaster. The project also includes individual preparedness workshops for youth, adults and seniors.
“I am honored to have been chosen as a White House Champion of Change,” said Toscano. “However, this honor needs to be shared with so many dedicated, amazing individuals I work with each and every day in both the Red Cross and our partners in the community. Empowering resiliency begins with change through working together.”
“Gail’s innovative and creative Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Workshops for School Children and Senior Citizens have made a difference in thousands of people’s lives throughout Northeast PA, said Jim Rienhardt, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Pocono Chapter. “They are now better prepared to handle emergencies, if and when they should arise.”
FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award
Toscano and Reinhardt also traveled to the White House to receive the “2012 Individual and Community Preparedness Award” on behalf of the American Red Cross Pocono Chapter. The award recognizes the innovative practices and achievements of individuals, Citizen Corps Councils and non-profit, faith-based and private sector organizations throughout the nation working to make our communities safer, stronger and better prepared to manage any disaster or emergency event.
The award was presented to the American Red Cross of the Poconos for its “Kids Home Alone Emergency Preparedness Workshops.” The Kids Home Alone Preparedness Workshop was presented to 500 fifth-grade students from the East Stroudsburg School District. Students rotated through eight interactive preparedness “stations” to learn skills for handling emergencies. Stations included: Home Alone and Emergency Preparedness; First-Aid, Pet First-Aid, Home Fire, Lightning and Thunderstorm, Flood and Hurricane; Tornado; and Red Cross Station. Students also learned about different disaster risks, how to prepare family plans, build emergency kits and what to do when emergencies occur. The program included hands-on activities, video lessons, experiments, games, educational displays and personal interaction with Red Cross workers and a local Monroe County 911 Call Center representative. More than 90 percent of students said they would recommend this program to other students.
“The American Red Cross of the Poconos is proud to have received the 2012 National FEMA Awareness to Action Award,” Rienhardt said. “The 500 fifth graders who participated in these preparedness workshops now have the supplies, materials, equipment and knowledge of how to appropriately respond to emergencies.”