Helping people to be prepared for an emergency is important to the American Red Cross, and it is important to Edison International. It just seems natural that the two are partners in teaching people how to stay safe and how to respond to emergencies, and in mobilizing volunteers to serve when a disaster strikes.
“We are very proud of the partnership between Edison International and the American Red Cross,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy & Community Investment at Southern California Edison. “When disaster comes, it is not just the responsibility of one organization, it is the responsibility of all. And it is not just about being financially invested—it is important to also be invested from the volunteer standpoint.”
Preparing Communities for Disasters
The two lead an initiative to prepare Southern California, especially underserved communities where people are least likely to have food and other supplies stored for an emergency. Edison International is the Founding Partner of the program, known as PrepareSoCal. Last year community preparedness education reached thousands of people.
Lives are saved by the simple act of teaching someone how build a kit, make a plan and be informed. “During disasters, vital resources will likely be unavailable, so preparing ahead of time allows you to minimize the effects of disasters and speed up the recovery process,” notes the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region.
Edison International is providing $1.5 million over the next three years to support PrepareSoCal. But the corporate giant is doing more than writing a check—it is also walking the talk by training employees to serve their communities should a disaster occur.
Engaging Staff as Volunteers
Nearly 150 Edison International employees have been trained in emergency shelter support under the Red Cross corporate volunteer program, Ready When the Time Comes, and together they have served more than 1,500 volunteer hours. The idea of training employees to be mobilized when a disaster strikes is so important to the utility that the American Red Cross and Edison International have mutually committed to training a bulk of the utility’s workforce.
Edison International’s disaster volunteers have responded to disasters in their communities and to larger emergencies across the country. For example, five members of an Edison International disaster response team—all trained in sheltering—spent the first part of November in New York helping people displaced by Superstorm Sandy. “We were there just before the holidays,” said Tumbling. “It was humbling to have the opportunity to lend a hand-up to people affected by Sandy.”
On their first national deployment, Edison International volunteers worked the 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. night shift at a Brooklyn shelter with a nightly population of 400 to 800 senior and homeless citizens, as well as people with disabilities. Working side-by-side with responders from the City of New York, AmeriCorps, FEMA and Doctors without Borders, they registered people; served food; distributed toothbrushes, combs, wash clothes and other toiletries; and maintained records.
One night they were assigned to a Staten Island shelter. Overnight, volunteers fully stocked a food pantry that shelter clients could draw from, and built a beautiful toy room for kids forced from their homes.
“We are very proud of the partnership between Edison International and the American Red Cross,” Tumbling said, reflecting on the sense of pride she felt being a Red Cross volunteer. “It was amazing to walk in and see the level of respect and appreciation residents and service providers had for our Red Cross team and the other volunteers.”