The trees are changing, hurricane season is in full swing, and our Fall Members Meeting is around the corner. It must be Fall. At my house, that means taking the air conditioners out of the windows, mowing the lawn for the last time, raking leaves, storm windows – and a few last rides on the motorcycle.

This weekend I was able to do just that and a few thoughts came to mind about National VOAD and the road that lies ahead. I remembered my instructor who advised our group that was learning to ride for the first time – his mantra – ALL THE GEAR , ALL THE TIME. That meant, for our safety and the best chance for survival – we wear boots, pants, motorcycle jacket, gloves, and a helmet – every time we go for a ride.

I can remember gearing up for my first muck out of a flood damaged home – rubber boots, two layers of gloves, a Tyvek coverall, N95 mask, and safety goggles – all the gear, all the time. How do we begin to translate that into what we do to resource the members of the National VOAD movement from an administrative approach?

First – we have the 4Cs : Cooperate, Communicate, Coordinate, and Collaborate – remember you are not alone. You have partners in this work/ministry of disaster response and recovery – it should be your first thought as you head out to respond – just like putting on boots – think of who you can be working with to aid survivors.

Second – National VOAD approved our new Strategic Plan for 2019-2023 with four main areas of focus:

Leadership Development Throughout the Movement (Tyvek coverall/pants): We must be constantly learning about better ways to deliver services to survivors and communities. Online training platforms, after action reviews, publishing white papers – sharing leading practices. How do we become more intentional about raising up new leaders and expanding our reach – as members and as an association? 

Technology and Data to Promote the 4Cs and Tell our Story (Gloves): Working with Visionlink – NVOAD has launched three modules on our DART platform for use with our State/Territory VOADs. I would like to say that we have trained 16 VOADs on the modules but …we have had limited success in getting agencies to register in the platform – BEFORE disaster strikes. We need your help – how do we help you register and utilize it – preparation is required. We will also be announcing our new website at FMM – it is exciting to see the capabilities to it will have to increase the telling of your stories. 

Strengthening Our Collective Identity and Relationships (Jacket): We continue to grow in membership both Nationally and within our State/Territories. The movement towards COADs in many states is creating local engagement in all areas of disaster of preparedness through mitigation. Private sector and government acknowledgement and participation with our VOADs is evident. How do we intentionally make certain that we are seeking from all areas of our communities? We have a new staff person at National VOAD – April Dembeck is tasked with working with our State/Territory VOADs. She and Amelia Mendizabal will be reaching out to you to develop a baseline of where we are and challenging us to go further.

Funding Sustainable Growth (Helmet and mask): National VOAD has been approached by and is in conversation with several fundraising organizations seeking to fund vetted disaster response organizations/nonprofits. The Board has been very cautious to make certain that we are not in competition with our members but provide a means for NVOAD and all our members access to financial resources to do their work. A few of the organizations we are speaking with are: America’s Charities, GoodNation, and GlobalGiving.


National VOAD – in 2020 – will be celebrating 50 years of Service! That is a lot of riding time but in order to continue our path forward – with intentionality – we must look to the horizon and see how we can build on the 4Cs and implement our strategies to make certain we get there safely together! Our communities are depending on us for another 50 years. ALL THE GEAR – ALL THE TIME.

Respectful and thankful for all you do, Greg