Massachusetts Gets Prepared

Although this situation is hypothetical and mostly unrealistic, the Cambridge, Massachusetts Stake worked toward informing surrounding communities on how to make preparing for emergencies simpler. In November 2006, the stake's public affairs committee set out to spread the news about emergency preparedness.

At first the stake was planning a rather complex Preparedness Fair. But after realizing the enormous task ahead of them, Rebecca Nielson, the stake's public affairs media specialist suggested that going to neighbors with information instead of expecting them to attend such a fair was a better plan.

The project's chairperson, Laurel Ulrich, puts it this way: "We emphasized 'ordinary' emergencies, like blizzards, power outages, etc. We would actually hand out lots of info with a small gift or two, and in the process invite people to follow-up workshops. If nobody came to the follow-up, we would still have accomplished our objective."

In order to organize this two-step event, the stake ordered materials, arranged for people to fill bags with information and items (such as hand warmers and space blankets), distributed bags to several wards, delivered information around the community, and planned the workshops in two different ward buildings. Because of their efforts, they were able to distribute approximately one thousand bags printed with the words "Mass Gets Prepared," a logo used by the Boston Stake.

The entire stake pitched in to make this event successful. Laurel says, "The stake Young Women came on a Saturday morning and stuffed all these things into the bags. They did a super job. They also heard a talk on preparedness. Some took a few bags to distribute themselves."

The stake was able to create ties with the community leaders and together they emphasized the importance of emergency preparedness. Laurel adds, "We had representatives from town fire and emergency preparedness groups and from the Red Cross involved, as well as a few people from a local settlement house."

Because of all the attention created by this event, the stake received an excellent response from the community. "The Red Cross was very impressed," explains Laurel. "We now have links to community groups interested in preparedness. We may have spread a few good ideas. Those of us who gave away bags were able to have good conversations with friends and neighbors."

Laurel and Jamie encourage others to start projects like their own. "Do it!" Laurel says. "I really think that taking the material to the world rather than waiting for them to come to you is the way to go."

Go to massgetsprepared.org for more information about this project and similar events in Massachusetts.

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