Stronger, Safer, and More Resilient: The Impact of Community Involvement

Boyce Wilson

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

Some may ask how servitude and leadership within the community make it stronger, safer, and more resilient.  In order to lead, one must first be willing to serve.  He or she must be willing to serve the needs, both spoken and unspoken, of the community and others.  It is through this approach that leadership transitions toward improving the foundation of the community: its members.  This concept is one that I was exposed to early in my career and it has continued to impact how I interact with my community.

In 2006, I became an emergency medical technician for a rural provider in Central Texas.  During my training, Paramedic Joe Alvarez, who later became my mentor, cheered the use of “teachable moments” to encourage patients to live in a healthier and safer manner.  According to Joe, these moments arise because there is a lack of knowledge that has resulted in a negative consequence for the patients.  It is during these times that we are provided an opportunity to correct the lack of knowledge and encourage positive circumstances in the future.  At that point, the light came on.  If an effort is made when the opportunity arises, a simple statement could make a major difference for an individual.  For several years, I enjoyed capturing opportunities to educate others as those “teachable moments” arose.

In late 2007, I joined the Heart of Texas Council of Governments as an emergency preparedness planner.  Since that time, I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the brightest minds to develop plans that address preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation of hazards and threats that our 6-county region faces.  I have also had the opportunity to serve as the regional coordinator for Citizen Corps Program initiatives within the region. I have worked to establish and facilitate the development of 21 different Citizen Corps initiatives within the rural 5,611 square mile area.  These programs epitomize the mission of Citizen Corps, which is to “harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds.”

Most recently, the true impact of servitude and leadership was demonstrated during the response to the West Texas fertilizer plant explosion on April 17, 2013.  Immediately following the explosion, Citizen Corps volunteers from 10 of the 21 programs found themselves working to meet the otherwise unmet needs of the citizens of West.  Four of the teams provided on-site assistance to responders, volunteers, and victims in the forms of rehabilitation, disaster psychology, and resource accountability.  The remaining six teams coordinated fundraising and donation drives to meet the growing demands for victim funds, blood for injured victims, and clothing for impacted families. 

Regardless of one’s desire to lead, the importance of servitude must not be underestimated.  It is through the desire to serve and the subsequent opportunities to lead through serving others that stronger, safer, and more resilient communities have become a reality within the 6-county Heart of Texas Council of Governments region.  By serving the needs of the community, we also encourage members within the community to take a leadership role in serving others.  It is through serving, leading, and encouraging that we truly make a difference within the community.

Boyce Wilson is an emergency preparedness planner at the Heart of Texas Council of Governments.  

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