Ready Neighborhoods is making great strides to help more than 1,200 people get better prepared for the next big earthquake or other disaster with training, spearheaded by the Monterey Bay Area Chapter’s preparedness coordinator, Wanda Vollmer.
With Wanda’s leadership and funding from Pacific Gas and Electric Company, more than 650 people have received disaster preparedness starter kits with flashlights, radios, food, water, and other items. Since starting the position in January, Wanda’s main goal has been getting the word out about the programs and preparedness tools available at community events and schools, such as San Benancio Middle School in Salinas where 350 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders learned about disaster preparedness in February.
Many of the program’s outreach efforts are in partnership with the Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association (CHISPA), the largest private, nonprofit housing developer in Monterey County, building more than 2,300 affordable single-family homes and multi-family and senior apartments since its incorporation in 1980.
Wanda says this partnership is important because the aim of Ready Neighborhoods is to target those who may not have the resources to create a disaster preparedness kit or plan.
“Such a huge percentage of people aren’t prepared,” said Wanda, who delivers two to five preparedness trainings per week and forms relationships with local organizations as part of her work. “I feel like it’s a great program to spread the word.”
She recalled an interaction with a migrant worker who asked her, “What are you going to do for us when there is an earthquake?” Wanda said she was going to teach him the skills to keep his family safe until help arrives.
Before joining the Red Cross, Wanda worked at Chapman University and Monterey Institute of International studies, and she says one thread that connects all of her work is helping others.
“My husband calls me a bleeding heart,” said Wanda, recounting how her family has always had an open door for people in need. “I’ve always incorporated some sort of philanthropy in my work. It’s nice to have a job where I can give back.”