1,200 Trained First Responders
Who do you call on when your entire town is flooded with over eight feet of water? Who can you turn to when, in an instant, you lose everything that has taken you a lifetime to build? During tragedies like these, we want to become like a child again and run to our mother’s arms for comfort. Volunteers from the World Mission Society Church of God, with the heart of Heavenly Mother, sprang into action in recent disasters on the East Coast – particularly during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Both left a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of people in the tri-state area. And this led them to receiving the CERT Training (Community Emergency Response Team).
It was during Hurricane Irene that a Detective of the Bergen County Police Department noticed the bright smiles and lively spirits of volunteers in yellow shirts. Something that immediately caught her attention. A year later, while working at a shelter in Mahwah, she saw those same yellow shirts walking in after Hurricane Sandy. Immediately, she yelled out, “The yellow shirts are here!” They were the volunteers from the World Mission Society Church of God. And one year later, Detective Gidget Petri organized an unprecedented event in Hackensack to officially certify these yellow-shirt volunteers from the Church of God, who left such a great impact on her, creating 1,200 trained first responders. The CERT training can take up to several weeks to complete, but in one day, members from Churches of God along the East Coast sat through 12 hours of training.
Volunteers showed their enthusiasm from the moment they arrived at the facility, cheering and clapping, and wearing their now well-known yellow shirts and smiles on their faces. Officials were astonished at the level of energy in the auditorium of the Bergen County Academies throughout the day, something they described as never seen in any previous class. Members traveled from as far north as New Hampshire to as far south as North Carolina, and of course from Bergen County. Yet they showed no tiredness. Detective Ronald Salzano of the Bergen County Police Office of Emergency Management was surprised at the amount of Church of God members who volunteered to be trained given the challenges the County has had in recruiting volunteer first responders. He described it as “having angels walking among us. You are like our spiritual first-aid kit.” News12 New Jersey even captured the importance of this training and how much it will mean for the community of New Jersey.
The night didn’t end there. Following the CERT Training, County, State Officials and other partner organizations presented the Church and Heavenly Mother with 11 awards in gratitude and recognition of the contribution the Church has made to the State of New Jersey over the past years. “It’s been remarkable what you’ve done in the state. You clearly have been wonderful neighbors and friends to all the people in Bergen County. So many people were affected by Hurricane Sandy… and you have been with us every step of the way as we recover from that and I truly want to thank you for what you have done for the fellow citizens of Bergen County. We will never forget and truly appreciate what you did for us the course of the last fourteen months. Now that you are CERT Certified, we are going to call on you even more because now you have official training.” Volunteers were moved to tears when they heard this from Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan, who presented the Church of God with a Certificate of Commendation. The Church of God also received:
- A Commendation from Mayor Donal Burden of Shrewsbury for hosting a blood drive in Central Jersey blood drive this past summer in partnership with Community Blood Center. Together with the Blood Center, Church of God volunteers have saved 3,000 lives since 2009.
- A Distinguished Achievement Award from the County of Bergen Department of Human Services Division of Senior Services for the volunteers’ dedication and service to Bergen County Seniors
- A Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Community Service from Commissioner Mary O’Dowd of the New Jersey Department of Health for addressing the need of dire need of blood in New Jersey and donating at the Super Community Blood Drive at MetLife Stadium
- A Certificate of Appreciation from the President of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center for participating in their Foundation’s 2013 Walk for Awareness during the month of breast cancer awareness
- A Plaque of Recognition from Always Advancing and Boss Events for lending a cheerful hand and making a difference at their Trenton Double Cross Half Marathon & 10K
- A Letter of Recognition from the New York Blood Center for saving 500 lives in the 2012 New Jerusalem Day Blood Drive in New York City
- A Certificate of Achievement for volunteering at the NJ Walk4Hearing
At the end of the night, the room was filled with even more excitement. Members were extremely encouraged and realized the difference that their volunteerism had made in the lives of others in the community and the State of New Jersey.