Ken Mallette, Maryland Emergency Management Agency
September 1st marked the beginning of National Preparedness Month, a FEMA initiative started in 2004 to encourage citizens to Pledge to Prepare. Across the nation, emergency managers and first responders have looked for creative and new ways to encourage the public to prepare. This year, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency decided to run a “Maryland Prepares” social media challenge, asking Marylanders a preparedness question for each day in September on Facebook and Twitter. It was through this challenge that we were introduced to Anne Arundel County native Lauren Hontz.
For nine-year-old Lauren, pledging to prepare has taken on a whole new meaning. Lauren’s family lost their home to a fire in July. Experiencing the loss of her home, Lauren decided to take action and help other children and families who have lost their homes to fire. She started Lauren’s Luggage, a non-profit organization that provides victims of house fires with a suitcase full of basic necessities for the first days after the incident.
Although Lauren’s Luggage is still in its infancy, Lauren has already been able to give back to a family who lost their home in August, along with the help of a local church. Lauren’s Luggage will have a table at the upcoming Baltimore City Fire Thrills show on October 6, 11-4pm at the Baltimore City Fire Department Fire Academy. For more information about Lauren’s Luggage and how you can help, check out Lauren’s Luggage on Facebook.
Even though National Preparedness month has come to an end, it’s always a good idea to prepare yourself and your family. Whether it’s building a disaster supply kit, making a family communications plan, or taking a preparedness class, we truly believe “A Prepared Marylander Creates a Resilient Maryland.”
Thanks again to everyone who participated in our inaugural month, and to Lauren for reminding us that we can all make a positive difference in our State when we come together to help our neighbors.
Martin O'Malley is the governor of Maryland. He writes a regular blog for his official website.