All it takes is one natural disaster. One situation beyond your control to shake you back into the present. Do you have a plan in place? Where will you evacuate to? Are your family and friends safe? In a moment, things change.
In the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. How can one person make a difference? Who do I turn to for help? Will my donation really help a family in need?
I understand these emotions all too well. As I write this, I am texting my family and making plans to evacuate my home as Hurricane Irma's unpredictable path could end up knocking on my door. First and foremost, I'm a mom. I want to ensure the safety of my children and our rescue dog. I have water, food, prescriptions and gas. I feel prepared, but can one ever really be ready for what may or may not happen in the wake of a storm?
Being prepared is in my nature. It's what I do. As the Lead Strategist for Drake Strategies, I work with our clients to ensure that they are prepared for situations beyond their control. Do I help them build disaster plans? Well, not exactly. My expertise is in strategy and communication. I help our clients build roadmaps that set them on a path for success, but account for the detours along the way.
Data. Information. Strategy. When we build roadmaps for our partners, we are empowering them to make quick decisions based on the information in front of them at any given moment. In a situation like a natural disaster, it allows a nonprofit to press pause on the day's planned activities and switch gears to the emergent needs of the community in which they serve. It is paramount to fulfilling their vision, mission and purpose.
You may be familiar with the Mr. Rogers' quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” As I watch news coverage of the clean-up of Harvey, I'm inspired. Everywhere you look you see helpers. And as Irma is barreling towards the United States, you are already seeing helpers get into place.
Today, I simply want to thank the helpers. The Good Samaritan who is helping the mom like me load water into my car, while I wrangle my toddlers. The nonprofits who are literally driving into the face of disaster to save lives. The first responders who don't have the option of evacuating with their families. Thank you. Thank you for inspiring the rest of us and being ready at a moment's notice.
Stefani Drake is the Lead Strategist + Founder of Drake Strategies. Stefani has over a decade of experience working in the US government, international NGO space and with domestic + international nonprofits. Currently on the UNDP's Roster of Communication Experts in Subsaharan Africa, Stefani is an analytical thinker and thoughtful storyteller who works with nonprofits to define who they are, elevate their influence and broaden their impact through strategic communications. Stefani lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, twin girls and rescue dog.