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Group salutes volunteers preparing to help in times of crisis

September 11, 2005|By CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN

Planning for an emergency preparedness event held in Hagerstown on Saturday started long before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.

The storm brought with it to this area not flooding or destruction, but a reinforced message.

"It can happen here, and we would like citizens to be proactive instead of reactive," said Verna Brown, Washington County's emergency management coordinator.

"Hopefully, if we had to think of anything good (resulting from Hurricane Katrina) - and it's hard to think of anything good when something so horrible happened - hopefully, this will bring it home without hitting home."

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Saturday morning at City Park, a bronze plaque was unveiled that reads: "No matter where you live, no matter who you are, we all have a role in hometown preparedness. This plaque is dedicated to the citizens of Washington County who have reaffirmed their commitment to serve their community in times of crisis by volunteering their time, energy and talents. It is with this type of commitment and dedication that makes Washington County, Maryland, safer, stronger and better prepared."

The event, organized by the Washington County Citizens Corps, first was held a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"It's to honor all those who have served, who have lost their lives," Washington County Citizens Corps Co-Chair Elaine Rose said.

Stressing that everyone can take steps to be prepared for an emergency or disaster also was a goal.

After a 30-minute ceremony at the park, the day's activities moved to Valley Mall.

There, brochures on preparedness were available at different booths, and volunteer opportunities with county organizations, including fire and rescue departments, were discussed.

At the mall, Blaine Snyder, 72, of Cearfoss, said volunteering brings a sense of personal satisfaction.

Snyder has been volunteering with a variety of organizations for 53 years, including the Hagerstown Fire Department, Explorer Post No. 132, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the county's Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association.

"We are our brother's keeper and it's important, especially in light of what we're experiencing in the southern states. We have to look out for each other," Snyder said. "I think they call it love."

Volunteering must be a selfless task.

"You don't get a lot of 'thank-yous' and stuff, which is not necessary," Snyder said. "But when you do, it means a tremendous bunch."

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