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Monday, March 14, 2016

March Lunch and Learn: Global Disasters call for Global Preparedness

By Cassie Schoon

Jenni Gasbarro,  Senior Director of Donor Relations
for the American Red Cross COW Region
The Red Cross responds to disasters of all sizes and scales, from home fires to hurricanes. And while the organization is tasked with providing preparedness resources and training for all disaster and conflict situations, preparing for events of a global scale requires a particular level of expertise, planning, cooperation and resources. For this reason, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies developed the Global Disaster Preparedness Center (the GDPC) to promote disaster preparedness and management. On Wednesday, March 16, Jenni Gasbarro, Senior Director of Donor Relations for the American Red Cross Colorado & Wyoming Region, will speak at the International Services Brown Bag Lunch and Learn about her own work in Global Preparedness, as well as the importance of preparedness in the face of variables like climate change, urbanization and environmental issues.

According to Gasbarro, the strength of an initiative like GDPC is in its use of shared disaster planning knowledge and development of accessible, useful solutions.

"The GDPC (Global Disaster Preparedness Center) is fascinating because it provides a free resource for Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies all over the world," s
he said. "It takes best practices from the US and from other countries and turns them into scalable solutions provided at no cost to the Red Cross network."

One of these solutions, she said, is the GDPC Universal App program. The program provides a mobile app platform that developers can easily adapt to broadcast local information on disaster-response resources, as well as relevant updates before, during and after emergency situations.
At the core of global disaster management efforts, Gasbarro said, are partnerships across non-profit organizations, educational institutions and the private sector.

"Partnerships are the lifeblood of the Red Cross!" she said. "Partnerships with the private sector, governments and other non-profits... We can’t forget the power of our own network. The GDPC is interesting in that it has a balance of partnership from museums such as the National Building Museum to academia and universities to tech companies, the power of working together will lift the tide and lift all of us toward resiliency."

When asked how the attendees of the Lunch and Learn could best aid in global disaster preparedness, Gasbarro said that disaster response still begins on the local level, no matter the scale of the disaster.

"Get to know your neighbors," she said. "Truly global disaster preparedness starts with us. Do we know our community, do we know our neighbors so that when something happens we know that Mrs. Smith down the street is on oxygen and needs access to a generator if she has no power? I hope people learn that we are part of the bigger whole, we are in this together with an amazing network of people around the world. Given that, the work happens one conversation at a time, starting with here in Colorado."

The Lunch and Learn event will be held at noon Wednesday, March 16. To RSVP for the event, click here. For more information, contact Tim Bothe.

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