After the November Think Tank
Zonta USA Caucus Think Tank presentation recap:
Severe Winter Weather – What Can Zontians Do to Make a Difference?
The Zonta USA Caucus Think Tank in November (2023) focused on disaster preparedness and winter weather. We often hear about spring, summer, and fall storms, tornadoes, fires, and floods. Extreme winter weather presents a host of issues in communities that are life threatening and require preparation.
The guest speaker, Melissa Veneble, Executive Director of the Northern Colorado Red Cross, spoke with us about extreme winter weather. She made three important points; the need to prepare prior to the storm, what do to when the storm hits, and how to recover from the storm. Her message was especially poignant because every state in the nation can be hit by winter weather in some form as well as wildfire season is now year round therefore presents its own risk factor.
We also talked about vulnerable populations and the issues they face during these more frequent and intense winter storms. Our communities benefit from pitching in to help our local vulnerable populations such as unhoused, seniors, single parents, low income families, and pets.
They can benefit from the work Zontians do by –
1. Learning about local snow or ice removal from sidewalks and bus stops. If there is no removal in these places advocate for this essential service.
2. Ask your local leaders about winter weather alert systems and how they reach the elderly, low-income populations, and the homeless. Advocate for improvements in the system if there are flaws.
3. When learning about an approaching storm contact and work with your local community partnerships to provide warm clothing, blankets, and food for the homeless, single-family households, and the elderly. This pop-up service project may help save lives.
To make a difference that will serve your community well we discussed how to break down your ideas into steps to take so your club can discover how the project will be beneficial. These steps are:
1. Identify the need – Who can you collaborate with in the community to identify the need?
2. Ask questions – Who is affected? Has this project been done before? By whom? Was it successful? What are the goals of the project?
Oftentimes well-intentioned people have an idea to help an individual or group with what they think the group or individual needs although without asking questions and learning more first the intentions may not be well received. Be sure to inquire with those who will be affected by your project to see if you are on track.
3. Construct a framework. This serves as a record for your club that provides data collection, contacts, ideas, and a timeframe. You can also add outcome, opinion, challenges, and cost.