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October 12, 2004 > Make A Difference: Get Prepared

Make A Difference: Get Prepared

by Mekala Raman

This year for Make A Difference Day, the Disaster Preparedness Club at Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) will be collaborating with the Fremont Fire Department and the American Red Cross to conduct a Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP) class and a first aid class respectively. This workshop, co-sponsored by the Tri-City Voice, is open to the community and students and will take place at CERT Central, 3300 Capitol Avenue, on Saturday October 23rd from 9:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Especially after the recent earthquakes that occurred very close to home, they would like to emphasize personal safety and learning how to avoid being the victim of a disaster.

The Disaster Preparedness Club at MSJHS was formed to help prepare the entire school, students and staff, for any disaster that may strike in the future. They are promoting CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training to educate the students and community about earthquake safety, hazardous materials, floods, etc. In addition to being trained on how to avoid being a victim, trainees learn how to assess situations and save the people around them. They also take part in the annual CERT drills organized by the Fremont Fire Department.

The PEP class sponsored by the club, the Fire Department, and Tri City Voice is a two hour training based on the FEMA curriculum. It is comprised of the first two CERT classes and is a convenient way for people to prepare for disaster since the CERT class requires a twenty hour commitment. It also allows high school students to earn up to three and a half hours of service learning credits and is an appropriate project for Make A Difference Day.

Make A Difference Day will be celebrating its fourteenth birthday on Saturday October 23rd. It was launched nearly one and a half decades ago by the USA Weekend magazine. It is a day that celebrates community and neighbors helping neighbors. Community members are encouraged to carry out charitable acts either individually, or in groups of any size. This is a worldwide event and multicultural volunteering activities are invited - even U.S. military personnel that are stationed abroad help out on Make A Difference Day - and as many as three million people have participated in the past.

As a motivation for people to volunteer in their neighborhood, Paul Newman, a supporter of Make A Difference Day, donates $10,000 to ten selected projects and hundreds of other groups appear in the USA Weekend's April edition (during National Volunteer Week) and on their website. Those selected for a Make A Difference Day award participate in an awards ceremony and possibly attend events in Washington, D.C. during National Volunteer Week in April. All groups and individuals who are participating and wish to be considered for an award must turn in an entry form, or else they will not be considered.

To make a difference next Saturday, October 23rd, join the fourteenth annual Make A Difference Day, which occurs every fourth Saturday in October. Be a part of this celebration by attending the Personal Emergency Preparedness and first aid workshops at CERT Central, which is located at 3300 Capitol Avenue (the same building as the City Council Chambers) from 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. High School students can earn service learning credits. For more information on the workshop call (510) 656-9526 or send an email to, attention Mekala.

Other Make-A-Difference Day projects in the Tri-City area can be found at

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