As the 9-11 Anniversary has, for the most part, arrived, members of the Chasing4Life team have found themselves in Joplin, Missouri. The airwaves are literally full of images, videos, recordings, TV specials and talk shows all focusing on the events that shook this country ten years ago, and the atmosphere in Joplin is one of resolve, of remembrance, and of hope.
The country has certainly come together, at least mentally, as the media and the calendar have offered us all something to focus on together.
But there is a lot more going on in this country right now other than an anniversary.
It is this weekend that Joplin will focus on service, with volunteers in the thousands descending on the city to work and to rebuild. It is this weekend that Texas will continue to battle against hell's flames in a drought-stricken nightmare. It is this weekend that already-weary eyes along the eastern seaboard will watch tropical storms that will bring more wind, more storms and more misery. It is this weekend that states like Pennsylvania will hope no lives are lost in flood waters as residents watch their dreams and hopes wash away.
It is this weekend that we need to do more than watch the 9-11 specials on cable. It is this weekend that our efforts need to be more than hanging that flag on the porch. It is this weekend that churches need to do more than add The Star Spangled Banner to their morning worship service. It is this weekend that we need to realize the call to act, to support, to go.
Over the course of the last several years, we have seen so many disaster strike this country, and yet, as our teams watched these disasters, the reality was always present that the support was not there to always respond.
Social media has become a great revealer.
We watch as our friends, our families and even some of our partners have posted continually disaster after disaster about how they "feel horrible", how their "hearts break" and how they "wish they could help", but yet the pleas for support go ignored. Please directed at those specific people...
Now, I realize not everyone can go. I realize not everyone can give. I also realize everyone knows someone.
Two weeks ago we received a call from a woman that has, for a full year, told us repeatedly she was putting together support efforts for our response teams... she called because she was finally caught up in a natural disaster and wanted to know if we were deploying and was requesting help. How were we to get there? We had the volunteers ready to go, but due to lack of support had no ability to deploy them...
One of our teams have been inundated with requests to respond to a ravaged area, but those requesting the deployment, when asked to assist us in finding housing when we arrived, seemed almost indignant because we asked.
One of our partnering organizations has never hesitated to call us around the clock to have us assist them in monitoring severe weather for them during deployments, but yet for 6 months we have awaited simple returned calls regarding our requests for help from them.
All this is to bring up a point.
While Chasing4Life is a wonderfully successful educational organization that provides life-saving educational programming across the United States, the Chasing4Life Disaster Response Teams are made up completely of volunteers. The gear carried and used by our members is paid for out-of-pocket or from companies that believe in giving back to their communities. Most of our members have jobs, families and other responsibilities just like everyone else, but everytime a disaster occurs or looms on the horizon, they call in, make themselves available, and then they wait... for you to help them use their training and passion.
And as to that training; these volunteers have become or are becoming highly trained responders because when not deploying, they are enrolled in courses, taking classes and attending training exercises.
As we enter this 9-11 Anniversary weekend and a weekend of service in Joplin, it is time to ask yourself: "What have I done to respond? What have I done to ensure that there are teams that will deploy when it happens to me? What have I done to help others go in my stead?
It doesn't have to be C4LDRT that you choose to assist, but it has to be something, somebody, some organization. To sit and watch events unfold day after day on the television without responding SOMEHOW is not how America was formed. It is not how it grew. It is not how lives were saved during Katrina. It was not how lives were saved during the 9-11 attacks. It was not how lives were changed in the Iowa floods.
Everyone can go somehow.