The American Red Cross of Santa Monica has embarked on a plan to ensure that Santa Monica is prepared to respond to a disaster — whether it be a home or apartment fire, a terrorist event or a devastating earthquake.

A three-year fundraising campaign with a $1 million goal is being launched to ensure that funds are available to maintain Red Cross preparedness, response and community safety.

The public is being asked to make pledges to the local Red Cross chapter’s Community Disaster Preparedness and Response Fund.

“Providing timely, effective and compassionate response to the victims of a disaster requires the right plan, the right resources and the right people — and that takes money,” said Ann Greenspun, chair of the Santa Monica Red Cross board of directors.

“All disasters are local disasters,” said chapter executive director John Pacheco. “During Hurricane Katrina, we learned that each community must be prepared to initiate its own disaster response.

“Waiting until a disaster occurs to develop plans or depending on the state or federal government to step in will result in catastrophe for victims. That’s why we need to make improvements so we can adequately meet the needs and expectations of Santa Monicans.”

With the fundraising effort, the chapter hopes to acquire an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to support mobile feeding and sheltering operations around the city as well as acquire additional emergency supplies and equipment for a catastrophic-level disaster, including cots, blankets and comfort items.

The Santa Monica chapter also plans to acquire new technologies to increase its ability to provide financial relief and other services to disaster victims as well as enhance volunteer recruitment, training and deployment.

“Funds raised would also be used to improve disaster management and leadership expertise by more focused volunteer recruitment, training and deployment systems,” Greenspun said. “We are asking the public to please consider becoming a ‘partner in preparedness’ to assure that help is here when it’s needed most.”

The chapter already has created new partnerships with local businesses and employers to bring preparedness messages to the 500,000 persons who live, work in or visit the area served by the local Red Cross chapter, she said.

“The chapter’s goals also include taking the “be prepared” message to new audiences, including youth and seniors with programs like our last May’s ‘I’ve Got 7’ campaign and our ongoing Senior Ready project,” Greenspun said.

Six months ago, the chapter expanded its response capacity through the newly created “Santa Monica Organizations Active in Disaster (SMOAD).”

“We are already providing this coalition of public and private nonprofits, houses of worship and local businesses with the training and planning necessary for coordination of relief activities,” Pacheco said. “With additional funding, we hope this will also increase our ability to provide quick and efficient disaster response including during a pandemic flu outbreak.”

Information on how to help or donate to the Community Disaster Preparedness and Response Fund, Marcia Clairol, director of development, Santa Monica Red Cross, (310) 394-3773 during weekday business hours.

The chapter’s Web site is www.redcrossofsantamonica.com

Donations or “sponsorships” of any size are needed.

The American Red Cross of Santa Monica is a publicly supported, 501(C)(3) nonprofit corporation that provides disaster awareness and disaster relief efforts, health and safety education, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid training, and youth services.

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