Boston, MA -- The Fourth of July commemorates the ideals of democracy and vision that created the Declaration of Independence. Fourteen New England residents participated in the historic signing of the document. As Regional Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), I have the responsibility for carrying on that patriotic spirit that ensures the protection of life and property by working with the elected officials and citizens of the six New England states. I am proud to be a New Englander and an American.
As we gather with family and friends to enjoy the fireworks and neighborhoods draped in red, white and blue, we are reminded of the patriotic spirit that built this nation and the American institution of public service.
Looking back over the past year and forward to the next, we have every reason to be proud and hopeful, but we must not allow ourselves the luxury of complacency. We still face many challenges, with each challenge comes an opportunity to fulfill our duties as citizens of this proud nation.
During the past 10 months, America has witnessed an outpouring of selflessness and heroism. People in every corner of the country have asked, "What can I do to help?" President Bush has answered that question by creating a national volunteer program called Citizen Corps.
The Citizen Corps plan provides a unified approach to citizen preparedness by linking a variety of new and existing volunteer activities with the goal of making our nation safer from threats of terrorism and natural disasters that are coordinated by FEMA.
The current Citizen Corps programs include: Neighborhood Watch, Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and Medical Response Corps. At the local level, the Citizen Corps initiative will expand a community's resources for crime prevention and emergency response.
Developing a local Citizen Corps requires active participation from local government, law enforcement, first responders, educational institutions, the private sector, faith-based organizations, established volunteer groups and you. For those who ask, "What can I do to help?", the answer is clear. You can join your local Citizen Corps or help create a local Citizen Corps Council.
Communities are encouraged to create a Citizen Corps Council made up of local community leaders who are tasked with spearheading efforts which embrace the principles and practices of preparedness, risk reduction and consequence management from natural disasters or terrorist events.
Each state will work with communities to foster participation in Citizen Corps programs and to help provide training at the community level. States will also provide technical support to local governments in creating Citizen Corps Councils to support local Citizen Corps initiatives. These initiatives will build upon community pride and patriotism.
Citizen Corps Councils will help organize local citizen participation by coordinating Citizen Corps programs, developing community action plans, assessing possible threats and identifying local resources. Members of the Citizen Corps will be asked to support local first responders and emergency managers when the need arises.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a training program that prepares people in neighborhoods, the workplace, and schools to take a more active role in emergency management planning, and to prepare themselves and others for disasters
What you can do to help? Volunteer now. For Citizen Corps in New England contact: