By Barbara Andersen and Hilary Hensley.
The Orfalea Foundation offices served as a Listos training center June 7-9, as the program prepares to expand its Spanish language disaster preparedness education throughout the state of California.
The Listos program was developed to fill a void in Spanish-language disaster preparedness education. Its mission is to educate Spanish-speaking populations about disaster readiness, emphasizing the sharing of preparedness skills and information with family and friends. The Listos curriculum’s Spanish-language presentations are tailored to the specific cultural and linguistic needs of Latino communities.
Since 2010, Listos has grown from a small pilot-program to a total cadre of 545 well-trained and empowered individuals in Santa Barbara County. With the support of the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Foundation, another 125 participants have graduated from the Listos program in San Luis Obispo County. These Latino community members are now ready to help themselves, their families, and neighbors in an emergency or disaster.
Listos builds partnerships with local businesses, community leaders, and non-profit organizations. In doing so, Listos provides valuable disaster awareness information to vulnerable populations, while simultaneously helping those same populations become familiar with public services available to them.
The frequency and severity of natural and man-made disasters in the State of California is escalating and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. The 2010 Census Data shows that 38% of the population in California is Latino, the highest in the country. To leave this percentage of the population unprepared in the event of a disaster would have devastating consequences for our neighborhoods, communities, government services, and economy. While not all of this population is monolingual, the Listos program’s sensitivity to cultural issues ensures greater understanding and trust.
When translated into English, the word Listos means: smart, ready and prepared. These words describe precisely what the program aims to do by empowering the Latino population to become more resilient as individuals, as families, and as a community. With the support of CalEMA and FEMA, the Listos program is now being expanded to reach the growing, predominantly underserved Latino populations throughout the State of California.
Listos was developed and piloted in early 2010 as part of the Orfalea Foundation’s Aware & Prepare Initiative, a community partnership to strengthen emergency and disaster readiness in Santa Barbara County. The Aware & Prepare Initiative focuses on building resilient communities by enhancing the capabilities of government agencies and non-profit organizations to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters.