In small communities, partnerships can make or break an event. The partnership between the city of Quincy, Gadsden County Emergency Management Office, the school district, the Department of Health in Gadsden County, the Gadsden County Health Council and Farm Share made the June 1 Information and Education Fair on the Courthouse Square.
“It really all started with the city of Quincy wanting an event to present their anti-litter campaign to the community. City Manager Jack McLean also wanted to address hurricane preparedness and Maj. Shawn Wood of the Emergency Management became interested because it was the first day of the hurricane season,” said Stan Johnson, one of the organizers.
It didn’t take long before the school district was included. School Superintendent Reginald James and Maurice Stokes, coordinator of Parent and Community Services, embraced the idea as an opportunity to introduce the school district’s summer literacy and reading program.
“Everything went well. It was as hot as I expected. Parents and children asked a lot of questions about the literacy programs, and that’s what it was all about,” Stokes said.
“We distributed books to all of the children, and as a little bonus we gave everyone ice cream. It was hot and the children and adults like the treat. The little ones were very excited about the books,” said Dorothy Wood of the Parent and Community Services staff.
About 100 parents signed up during the event.
The point of the event, said Johnson, was to bring about awareness and to give the public a glimpse at what the various governmental entities are doing in the community.
“It was great for us,” Wood said. “People got a chance to see close up some of the equipment that we have such as the tank, various emergency vehicles that we have for use during a hurricane or other disaster. It also gave us the opportunity to speak one-on-one with citizens about what they need to do to get prepared. Lots of times people who ask questions in front of a large group. But the way it was set up allowed us to talk to people individually while we gave them the information,” said Maj. Wood.
WTXL Chief Meteorologist Casanova Nurse stressed the importance of having a family disaster plan before hurricane season begins.
“Ask yourself if your family is prepared to be on its own for three days or more. Do you have enough food, water and other critical supplies for your entire family for three days? Do you live in an evacuation zone? If so, do you have an evacuation plan? Do any of your family members have special needs? Do you have a plan for your pets? If not, you have the opportunity now to correct it,” Nurse advised.
The event also enabled the Health Department in Gadsden County to register people who have special needs so they can be contacted for wellness checks during a disaster. Director Aaron talked to citizens about the need to check wells after a major disaster. Part of the event was sponsored by the Gadsden County Health Council.
Farm Share also participated in the event in its outreach efforts to reach more people. Thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables, water and juice were distributed during the four-hour event.
Other agencies participating in the first-time event included: the American Red Cross, Humane Society of Gadsden County, Florida Highway Patrol, Quincy Police Department, Quincy Fire Department, Gadsden County Road and Bridge Department and Quincy Public Works Department.