Clyde's Corner on Volunteerism

Heartfelt Thanks, Heart-Breaking News

Last year when I was asked if I would write a column for Drive, I quickly agreed.  The goal at the outsClydes Corner Heartfelt Thanks Heart-Breaking News Dec 21 2012et was to provide useful information about New Orleans, the location of our then upcoming inaugural conference.  Having been to New Orleans many, many times for fun and to volunteer, I was a good candidate to talk about the food, music, sights, volunteerism, and the people of this interesting city. Over time, Clyde’s Corner has broadened, taking on new topics like BCP challenges, tales of people responding to disasters, my own experiences with outages, and sometimes my feelings about current, relevant issues.  And this week, I turn to current events and the realities of a specific part of our business – emergency response and life safety.

When this article comes out on Friday, it will have been a week since the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  As I write this with a heavy heart on Monday morning, the details and specifics unfold endlessly and painfully in the media. Our President visited the town last night, and scores of news reporters work tirelessly to bring the story forward – each trying hard to leave tears for off-camera, even though this horrific and tragic event has put our emotions at the forefront.

As a BCP guy, I can relate the specifics of this horrible day, in remote ways, to what we do.  As a parent, I can only try to understand what the parents, friends, and community are dealing with. I am not ashamed to say that I am a sensitive and emotional type, and events like this one in Newtown tear at my heart. Seeing the faces of those young children and adults who died is just very painful. I am not smart enough or knowledgeable enough to understand where gun control, mental health issues, and violence in video games and TV and movies has impact on bad days like this one, but I am smart enough to know that this was a worst-case scenario for many innocent people. For this idyllic town, and perhaps the nation, our way of life may have forever changed.

Last Friday, I was teaching a workshop for DRI International in Washington, D.C. We had talked briefly about active shooter and shelter in place when discussing emergency response and life safety.  Not long after, when we took a lunch break, one of the students showed me her iPhone and the streaming story was of the shooting in Newtown. Shocked, saddened, moved, almost paralyzed, I chose not to bring it up in the class. Yet I knew that several students had seen the story and were profoundly saddened and curious about what had happened. But I had a half-day of topics to cover, and professionally I needed to move on. I did so, but my heart and mind were with those in Connecticut.

I focused hard and carried on with our class. It was a very good group of almost 30 students, and we had lively and informative dialogue. But, in the back of my mind was this unthinkable disaster. Thank you to my students that day for forging forward and staying focused. Thank you for sharing your personal stories at the break and after class. Thank you for outwardly recognizing that certain components of our business are so important, so relevant, and so meaningful in a world that can and does bring bad things to our lives, communities, and businesses.  Thank you to all our of weekly readers for taking a moment of your time to think about those in Newtown. This is a dark and painful time for so many.  My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted.  And thank you all for listening.

All the best,

Clyde Berger

cberger@driif.org
Director of Volunteerism and Vice President

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