The Williamson County Emergency Management Agency is seeking member organizations to be part of a new group of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (Williamson VOAD) and participate in planning and responding to future disasters that affect the count.
The new Williamson County VOAD will be a coalition of independent Williamson County community organizations, including faith-based, non-profit, voluntary and government agencies, that may be active in the various phases of the disaster. VOAD’s mission is to provide knowledge and resources in a coordinated and effective manner throughout the disaster cycle – preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery – specifically to assist disaster survivors in Williamson County communities.
Williamson County VOAD aims to bring together volunteer groups to assist residents and businesses in the event of a disaster, fill the gaps the government cannot fill, help respond quickly to imminent needs, and support long-term disaster recovery. .
Disasters are on the rise in Tennessee, with 11 active disasters currently underway. While Williamson County is only included in two of these events, the community is experiencing an increase in severe weather events that cause significant damage but are not eligible for federal assistance.
“Williamson Counties have always been collaborative and cooperative in times of need, and Williamson County VOAD is being created for that reason,” said County Emergency Management Agency Director Todd Horton. of Williamson. “Williamson County has many valued agencies, nonprofits, churches, businesses and citizens. VOAD is a way to coordinate their efforts for the greater good.
Williamson County VOAD will work with the Williamson County Emergency Management Agency (WCEMA) to plan a coordinated response consistent with WCEMA’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) expectations.
“In addition to our county’s professional emergency management agency, our experience tells us that we need a cohesive structure of voluntary, nonprofit, and corporate organizations to join VOAD so that we can better provide assistance when needed,” Horton said. “We realize that it is not a question of if a disaster will occur, but when it will occur. We want to assure residents that we are taking active steps to prepare for the next crisis event. »
Williamson County also established the Williamson County Disaster Response Fund in partnership with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. In times of disaster, unsolicited donations, although well-intentioned, often create a disaster within a disaster, slowing recovery efforts due to the level of commitment required to deal with unnecessary items. The best way for humanitarian organizations to respond to community needs is to provide them with the financial means to buy the right supplies at the right time, and to buy them locally if possible. This fund will provide support to relief organizations that are actively helping those affected in Williamson County.
VOAD is not intended for individual volunteers. Residents who want to help in times of crisis can volunteer through some of the VOAD organizations. Membership in VOAD is open to any Williamson County agency or organization with a role to play in any phase of emergency management. Williamson County VOAD has three levels of membership:
• Full Members are 501(c)(3) organizations with a disaster response program and resource commitment policy (including, but not limited to, personnel, funds, equipment, and supplies) to meet the needs of people throughout Williamson County affected by disaster without discrimination.
• Affiliate Members are any Williamson County organization with disaster planning and operations responsibilities or capabilities (including, but not limited to, government agencies, religious and spiritual communities, and nonprofit organizations). not-for-profit 501(c)(3) exemption but do not meet the requirements for full membership and/or do not have the capacity to be engaged on a regular basis.
• Corporate partners are all businesses in Williamson County willing to engage and support VOAD’s preparedness and response activities.
The goal is to rally and coordinate, while avoiding duplication of services, the existing network of resources in Williamson County that can be requested through VOAD to include all, but not limited to, food, water, clothing, emergency supplies, construction and cleaning. from work to donation management and mental health crisis counselling. The VOAD group will meet throughout the year to organize and plan the deployment of community resources in an efficient and timely manner.
Interested groups can complete the VOAD membership form and access a commitment letter at www.surveymonkey.com/r/BTYPBH5.
To learn more, visit www.tnvoad.org/williamson-county-voad/.