If you are like us, about once a year you will get a letter from one of your neighbors asking you to donate to a given cause (which is a good cause) by sending them your donation. They then gather all the donations and send a (hopefully) large donation, on behalf of the neighborhood, to the cause. We got such a letter yesterday. Small problem. We got two such letters yesterday.
One letter was addressed to my husband--I know this, because it was sent to his initial, our last name, our address. The other was sent to "Frida Nobblebipper." (Name changed to protect the identity of an unknown woman who might or might not live in our general area.) The irony? They know the full first name of Frida.
Thing is, we know all the people who have ever lived in this house, none of whom have the surname of "Nobblebipper". The original owners lived in this house for many years, continuing to live here after they raised their children. We considered buying it from them, but passed. We knew the second owners, who called us when they wanted to sell, because they knew that we had been interested a few years before. We were interested. Interested enough to buy it without it going on the market. Not a "Nobblebipper" in the bunch.
So, it probably will not surprise you that I found this interesting enough to talk to my best source (Mom) about. I have never actually been in charge of a project like this, but she told me that one year, an organization had called and asked her to do the same thing. She said that the organization provided a list of names and addresses to use to complete the project. So our neighbors were probably working from such a list, and perhaps thought that since "Frida Nobblebipper" was listed, that we had someone staying with us that they didn't know about.
How does this work into preparation? If you are still reading, :) this is how I see it. What if there is a natural disaster, and people in the neighborhood are the only ones available to provide help during the crucial first hours/days/fill in the blank? Wouldn't it be crucial to know who is accounted for, and who is trapped in rubble/hurt/fill in the blank? Wouldn't it be more efficient to be looking for someone who actually may be in need of assistance, rather than a "Frida Nobblebipper," who, if she exists, may be vacationing in Hawaii at the time of the emergency?
What if there were a pandemic? Everyone would be quarantined in their own houses, but let's say, hypothetically, that there is an actual Frida Nobblebipper, and she lives 3 doors down. Also in this hypothetical situation, there are three-year-old Thaddeus Nobblebipper, and one-year-old twins, Erastus and Petronella Nobblebipper--Frida's husband, Bartholomew, is in the military, off serving the country. What happens if Frida falls ill, there is no one to help with the children, no way of contacting anyone, and no one actually knows where she and her children are to even check on them?
Post title notwithstanding, I am not talking about Sesame Street here, but about emergency situations. I used unusual names a) in the hopes that no one will think that I am actually talking about them in particular, b)because a little humor lightens the atmosphere, and c) because I like to, but this little experience really kind of bothers me. If people who are going to make money (granted, for a good cause) from knowing where people are can't get it right, who will? As far as I know, there are not easily available lists of who lives where, unless you count the census. And since that is not available to the public for many years, it looks like it is up to us, as individuals, to figure such a list out, keep it current and available, and then use it when an emergency strikes that affects our neighborhoods.
My best source (Mom) told me about 3steps.org. Her neighborhood is set up this way in Utah, but I haven't heard about it in my state. Apparently, a lot of neighborhoods in her area are set up to deal with a disaster in this way--I really need to convince her to write her own blog, huh? :)
I have looked at some of this site and need to study the program in depth to try to implement it in my neighborhood, but so far it actually looks pretty simple. The hard part for me will be getting out of my comfort zone and trying to get it started, even if it ends up not being mainly me or even mostly me getting it organized. Probably not everyone will participate, but won't a plan for emergency situations benefit everyone that does participate if an emergency does occur? Unusual names aside, it would be heartbreaking if there were an actual "Thaddeus, Erastus, and Petronella" who could possibly have their lives saved if someone knew where they were, but who suffer or worse because no one even knows they exist. There are other possible scenarios--older people who need assistance, etc.--but in the end, we have to know where the "Frida Nobblebippers" of the world are, and what their needs are, before we can help them.
I freely admit (although there is considerable shame involved) that I don't know all of the people in my neighborhood. I plan to work on it so that I do. Hopefully, the fact that I have written this down, in this blog, will encourage me to do it faster.
Chances are, though, that I'm not in your particular neighborhood, so unfortunately, anything I help to set up will not affect you or those around you. We have to help who we can. Who are the people in your neighborhood?