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Putting Others before Yourself

Mary D. McLee, Sr. is being honored as a Individual and Community Preparedness Champion of Change.

Marny D. McLee, Sr.

Marny D. McLee, Sr. is being honored as a Individual and Community Preparedness Champion of Change.

I have always had a strong commitment to my family, community, and country. I grew up in a single-parent household and was the oldest of six boys, so I had to step up and help take care of my family. This showed me that I could dedicate myself to improving the lives of those around me—members of my family, community, and country. When I was old enough, I joined the military and served on Active Duty in the U.S. Air Force for over 20 years. The values I learned from my experiences with my family and in the military are now a part of me, and those values have driven me towards working in community preparedness.

My journey to Citizen Corps started over 10 years ago, when I began a second career as an Emergency Planner. In this role, I presented to community groups, faith-based groups, and schools about Citizen Corps and the importance of emergency preparedness. Engaging with these communities showed me that my true calling was in family safety and community preparedness.

Early on, it was clear to me that partnerships and outreach had to be two pillars of our community preparedness work in Delaware. To bring together local stakeholders and ensure community investment, we made it mandatory for programs to be sponsored by a county or local emergency manager, fire chief, or chief of police. We also discovered that the business community, educational institutions, and non-profits could be helpful in providing citizens with opportunities to get involved in community preparedness. We now have partnerships with organizations all across the state, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the YMCA. We also have strong relationships with faith-based communities, such as the Muslim community.

I’ve learned that partnerships allow us to do much more than we could ever do alone. For example, we sponsor an annual Family Emergency Preparedness Day, and it is absolutely essential that we have help from our partners. Working with Minor League Baseball has allowed us to spread our preparedness message all season long. We have also built a partnership with the amateur radio community, which helps us effectively improve emergency communications during times of disaster.

I have also helped establish local groups of emergency preparedness volunteers so that communities all across the state are prepared for emergencies. I have pushed the State Citizen Corps Council to establish local citizen corps councils and provide them with support as they engage their own communities. By empowering local communities, we have been able to create solutions tailored to the unique needs of diverse communities.

Providing people with the chance to serve through volunteer opportunities is important to bringing together communities. Through educating and training volunteers, we reach even more people in need of community preparedness. And by providing opportunities for volunteers to contribute, we ensure that communities are actively involved and empowered in the process of preparing for emergencies.

Our strategy of partnerships and outreach has helped us reach more people than I ever could have imagined. I am incredibly proud of the work we have done to prepare the citizens of Delaware for disasters.

Marny D. McLee, Sr. is the Delaware Citizen Corps and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training and Outreach Coordinator. He works at the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA).