Empowering Resiliency Begins with Change and Working Together

Gail Toscano

Gail was recognized as a White House Champion of Change in Community Resilience and Preparedness. 

I am honored to have been chosen as a White House Champion of Change. However, this honor needs to be shared with the many dedicated and amazing individuals I work with each and every day.  Our work is a team effort.

I believe change is the power to resiliency.  My passion is to help change the way our communities think about preparedness in order to motivate them become a resilient community.

Hurricane Sandy forced our community to recognize that they need to be better prepared.  The better prepared a person, family, or organization is, the better they will recover after a disaster occurs.      

Empowering communities to become resilient requires change, working together and developing a relationship with our partners. Our goal is to help create a healthy, safe, and prepared community for all of our residents.  

A comprehensive education program has been developed to strengthen the community to think critically, take action and problem solve.  The program includes training residents of the communities to prepare, respond, and recover by working together with local and government officials. This action will create the community’s ability to coordinate emergency services, assistance and care.  The impact of this project is to create a self-sufficient community that can be ready and withstand the initial impact of a disaster.

In addition, the program includes individual preparedness workshops for youth, adults and seniors.  The “Kids Home Alone Emergency Preparedness Workshop” was developed by a team of Red Cross volunteers and received the Federal Emergency Management Agency 2012 Individual and Community Preparedness Award for the efforts to make communities safer, stronger and better prepared for any disaster or emergency.  Many youth in our community are home alone for long periods of time as parents are working longer hours and/or several jobs.  The goal is for our youth to leave these interactive and educational workshops feeling confident that they can handle disasters and emergencies to the best of their ability and with the knowledge of safety prevention.  I strongly believe becoming resilient begins with our youth.

I have been extremely fortunate and thankful to work with such a compassionate and dedicated group of Red Cross volunteers and community partners to implement these programs. Thanks to these individuals and our funding partners we are able to provide these programs for the communities in Northeast PA Region of the American Red Cross.

Gail Toscano is the Preparedness and Resiliency Manager for the American Red Cross Northeast PA Region.

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