COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAMS (CERT)
CERT educates individuals about disaster preparedness for hazards that
may impact the area and trains them in basic disaster response skills,
such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and
disaster medical operations. Using training learned in the classroom and
during exercises, CERT volunteers assist others in their community
following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately
available to help. CERT volunteers are also encouraged to support
emergency response agencies by taking an active role in emergency
preparedness projects. CERT is supported by the Coalition, but activation and policy is determined by the Emergency Management Director, for information contact Tress Reynolds, EOC Coordinator, 850-653-8977x101
Volunteer Connect is an online volunteer and agency database which matches volunteers to service opportunities in the Forgotten Coast region. The Coalition collaborates with over 40 institutions, agencies, organizations and community groups who utilize volunteers to fulfill their missions and complete projects that impact critical community needs. The Coalition provides training to support the engagement of skills based volunteers, to advocate for volunteers with a focus on matching a volunteer’s personal objectives to high priority tasks, and furthering the Coalition’s aim to reduce poverty and strengthen community resilience. For collaborating partner's listings, complete agency profiles, and volunteer opportunities, click here to access the Volunteer Connect system.
BAY AID DISASTER RELIEF FUND
September of 2013 marked one year since the collapse of the oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay. Hundreds of displaced seafood workers and the collateral businesses which count on the seafood industry to survive continue to struggle in the multi county rural region that surrounds the Bay. In the last three years, local and state political leaders, state agencies, non-profit organizations, churches and volunteers have supported the affected people of the region with job skill development initiatives, bay restoration projects, and empowerment programs that cushioned the economic blow. But those funding streams have come to an end and the region is in dire need of investment. On August 12, 2013 the Federal government recognized the fisheries failure officially with a declaration by the Department of Commerce, citing the impact of drought, freshwater flows on the Apalachicola River and the devastation caused by saltwater predators which kill the oyster beds. While the battle over water makes the headlines, the people of the region are slipping into a deeper economic crisis.
Help is direly needed. At the beginning of the collapse, the displaced seafood workers themselves proclaimed they did not want a “Hand-Out”, what they needed most was a “Hand-Up”. The Coalition and our partners took that inspiration, received support from Volunteer Florida, and developed “A-Hand-Up Volunteer Assistance Program”. In that effort, 52 displaced seafood workers volunteered over 1155 hours to help the community as their contribution to solve the problems resulting from the oyster collapse, that is a total value of over $25,000 of honest volunteer work. Bay Aid Frabklin assisted 112 households and 484 people with utility, housing, medical and food expenses thanks to private donors. The Coalition supports engagement and empowerment of the affected population and does not support entitlements. Recipients volunteer in their community and support the assistance initiatives.
There are success stories that show promise. While one in every four Franklin County residents (and one in every three children) live in poverty by Federal standards, our records show that almost 60% of the regions households are struggling with sustainability. But one person - one family at a time, change is taking place and over six hundred people have participated in job skill development initiatives, restoration projects and micro-business development which were products of efforts by the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida and many other businesses, churches, private donors and community volunteers. Almost five years into the crisis, the immediate outlook remains bleak. The area requires economic investment and job creation/diversification to engage the displaced workers until the restoration projects can be completed and have an effect on the productivity of the seafood industry. We respectfully request support and are willing to be active agents in any initiative which will reduce the impact of the bay collapse.