Top 3 Things I Am Thankful For That Combat Disasters

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Disaster volunteers enjoying a meal

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect & be grateful

This week, I am sharing the top three things I am thankful for that combat disasters. Many of us are focusing on the busy holiday season. There is a lot of preparation, visiting with friends, family, and gift-giving. As you enjoy the holidays, don’t forget to give thanks this season.

As we enter winter in the northern hemisphere, it is a perfect time for reflection. It can be challenging to embrace a Hygge vibe with the demands of life and family. As much as we all try to channel the good feelings of the season, it’s hard not to be aware of disasters across the globe. Top of mind is the bushfires in Australia where six people have died, 600 homes have burned, and 401 million acres destroyed. Another is the unrest in Chile that sparked in early October in response to hikes in public transportation costs.

Salvation army volunteer collecting donations for disasters

#1 Thankful for the non-governmental orgs

Disasters are disruptive. Often, the size and scale of events overwhelm first responder groups’ ability to respond effectively. It is at times like these are when non-governmental organizations (NGOs) step in to help. Organizations like the American Red Cross/Cresent, Salvation Army, and the International Medical Corps step in to assist. These nonprofits provide support to impacted communities. 

Disaster Relief NGOs are invaluable in getting necessities of life to communities in need. These organizations serve as conduits for donations and aid to those directly affected. Most cities need help, and it can be faster for these organizations to provide it, as they are often unhindered by the constraints and paperwork required when applying for government assistance.

If you want to hear more from members of the NGO community, check out the blog I wrote earlier this year, Ten Inspirational Ted Talks for Disaster Professionals, which is a testament to the innovative thinking coming from this sector. 

Disaster professional to rescue a man

#2 Grateful for all of the first responders

Next, let’s chat about all of the emergency responder groups. You know them, firemen, policemen, EMTs, and emergency managers. These are just a few of the individuals who undergo specialized education. Their training is to arrive first to assist at the scene of emergencies, such as accidents, natural disasters, or terrorist attacks.

All of these men and women are the rescuers. They put themselves in harm’s way after crisis events. Without them, our communities would experience more devastation and destruction. So, during this Thanksgiving week, I am grateful that they choose such challenging daily lives to serve and protect the rest of us.

Disaster volunteer

#3 Appreciate all of the disaster volunteers

Last but not least, I am so appreciative of all the volunteers who give so generously of their time and resources to help when a disaster happens. People who volunteer to help after an incident are unsung heroes. I am amazed by people who give of themselves so freely for others. It is incredible to witness people stepping up time after time to repair their communities or travel halfway across the world to save people they don’t know.

Thinking back to my days with the Red Cross September 11 Recovery Program, I am still humbled when I learned that the majority of the employees who were volunteers who had been working since Ground Zero. Many of them came to help on that horrible day and stayed to run the program. A story similar gets repeated at most disaster sites, whether large and small. I hope that this level of giving never ceases amongst us and continues to override country, political, and cultural divides.  

Thankful for disaster champions

Enjoy the holiday & keep others in your thoughts

So, as we go into the start of this holiday season, let’s all keep the first responders, disaster aid workers, and relief volunteers in our thoughts. Without them, we would not sleep as easy or recover as quickly from crisis incidents. Although their job is not to make any of us whole after disasters, their support they go a long way towards helping people heal.

These selfless people run into fires we run away from to survive. They continuously seek ways to keep the next event from being less impactful by engaging in planning and mitigation. So, this Thanksgiving, please say some extra thanks. The world would be a lot colder and darker without them. 

If you are in the responder or volunteer communities and are reading this, thanks to you and your families. I sincerely hope to have a wonderful holiday season.

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