The Faith Community Partnering for Emergency Preparedness Project conducted outreach to the faith community by holding focus groups and meetings throughout the region. Then, we brought together interested members of congregations and faith-based organizations together with emergency responders at two regional Faith Community and Emergency Responder Forums.
Faith Community Focus Groups
A total of 56 clergy and lay leaders participated in the following meetings during fall 2011:
- Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative
- Pittsfield Area Council of Congregations (PACC)
- Interfaith Council of Franklin County
- Southern Berkshire Clergy Association
- Hampshire County Focus Group
The goals of these meetings can be summarized as “4 E’s”:
- Engage: Enable small group dialogue to share their emergency experiences and future needs
- Empower: Elicit positive examples of how their congregation or faith-based organization successfully responded to an emergency
- Educate: Provide preparedness handouts/links
- Energize: Motivate to start planning efforts and to participate in upcoming Forums
Feedback from Focus Group Participants included:
- Five-Question Evaluation showed agreement that the focus group experience increased their motivation and understanding to help their congregation prepare. Participants also found that the “Appreciative Inquiry” process used by facilitators effectively engaged them in emergency preparedness planning.
- Fourteen-Point Questionnaire revealed that 60% of respondents had no emergency plan for themselves of their families nor had they helped their congregation to prepare.
- A Small-Team Model of organizing the congregation proved effective in helping members prepare for and respond to a regional disaster.
- Many congregations are interested in learning how to serve as Emergency Rest Centers during disasters.
County Coordinators shared Faith Community Project updates at almost 100 local, regional and state meetings, including clergy associations, congregations, community coalitions, disaster AAR conferences, health departments, interfaith organizations, LEPCs and REPCs, Massachusetts VOAD and Regional VOAD, MMRS, public health coalitions and regional sheltering meetings.