Ginny was recognized as a White House Champion of Change in Community Resilience and Preparedness.
Being selected as a White House Champion for Change is deeply humbling and a true honor, but it is impossible for me to accept this award without acknowledging the dedicated and inspiring people I am privileged to work with throughout the entire state of Texas. The nature and demands of community preparedness require a strong team of individuals who work together to ensure the safety of our communities, cities, regions and states when disaster strikes.
These individuals all come together to assist elected officials, community leaders and first responders whenever they are needed. Throughout the past eight years, I have had the privilege of working with a team of these dedicated volunteers and emergency preparedness professionals through the Texas Citizen Corps Program. It is on behalf of these dedicated individuals that I accept this award.
In my professional capacity, I work with 24 regional councils representing 254 counties and more than 268,000 square miles collaborating to enhance service and program delivery across the state of Texas. Due to her size, topography, diverse population and vast geography, coordinating effective and efficient programs and services can present a unique set of challenges. As a solution, Texas adopted a regional approach for preparing communities utilizing 24 regional councils of government—voluntary associations of local governments formed under Texas law to assess problems, planning needs, and the coordination of services that cross the boundaries of individual communities.
In Texas, Citizen Corps is one of the regional programs assisting communities to plan and prepare for disasters together to make their families, homes, and communities safer. The program is comprised of unbelievably dedicated and selfless individuals all with a heart to serve their neighbors. The members of Texas Citizen Corps are volunteers of all skill levels and backgrounds who come together to provide support to local fire departments, law enforcement officials, emergency medical service providers, and any community public health needs that may arise. Together we have faced wide-ranging threats of natural and mad-made events including: hurricanes, winter storms, significant flooding events, tornadoes, devastating wildfires, droughts, sand storms, extreme heat, and manmade hazards such as the recent events in West, Texas and Citizen Corps teams have been an integral part of community resilience.
The importance of communities coming together to create a plan for, respond to, and recover from any event affecting a group of people in a safe and organized manner cannot be underestimated. It is for precisely this reason that I feel so honored to work with a team whose mission is to assist regions and communities with those efforts.
To those volunteers who give tirelessly of themselves at the call of your communities, this award belongs to you. I hope you will accept my most sincere gratitude for standing by the citizens of Texas and this great nation in times of need. It is impossible to express how truly blessed we are by your willingness to serve.
Ginny Lewis is the Associate Director and General Counsel for the Texas Association of Regional Councils in Austin, Texas (TARC).