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Citizens group works to ensure emergency shelters

Eastside Leadership Institute by Wendy Walsh
The Eastside Leadership Institute has chosen emergency disaster shelter projects as one of its goals for 1996.
   The Leadership Institute was started in Redmond seven years ago, and now includes participants from Kirkland and Woodinville. The eight-month program trains ordinary citizens in local communities to recognize areas of need, and to provide leadership in meeting those needs. As of June, approximately 180 participants launched 30 projects to benefit Eastside communities.
   Kris Redfern of Woodinville, a student at the institute, has been instrumental in recognizing the need for emergency shelters on the Eastside. Redfern's group identified the lack of shelters in the case of such natural disasters as earthquakes as an important community need. Redfern has actively participated in bringing community representatives together to work on the project.
   Schools seemed a logical place for shelters, but there are district concerns about liability and coordination of shelter needs. Redfern's group contacted the Red Cross to find out how it is managed, and discovered the Red Cross takes full responsibility once a shelter has been approved by its management.
   Collaboration between agencies has been a priority of the leadership project in order to structure supplies, storage facilities, and shelter locations. Logistical cooperation between agencies has also been facilitated by the Leadership Institute group.
   Dominic Marazano of the Woodinville Fire Department has been involved in coordination of local emergency services. He met with Northshore School District representatives Nick Davis and Steve Young to identify shelter locations. Together, they worked with the Red Cross and identified local junior high schools as potential shelters. Northshore junior high schools with large gymnasiums have been paired with elementary schools in strategic neighborhoods. Tentatively, Leota and Northshore Jr. Highs are possible sites for emergency shelters.
   The Red Cross is reviewing each Eastside school district to determine which facilities best meet its established shelter criteria. In Northshore, a designated supply facility will contain cots, blankets, first aid supplies, and other standard needs, which can be transported to the disaster facility.
   Redmond resident Linda Robinson is the new director of the Leadership Institute. A graduate of the first class of the former Leadership Redmond, she was instrumental in expanding the institute to include other Eastside communities. Graduates from the program have become leaders in multitudes of community projects, and have strengthened the concept of local responsibility within the communities.
   The program is co-sponsored by the local chambers of commerce, and has connections with other local and national leadership programs. The class of 1997 is now being recruited. For information, call the Leadership Institute at 885-4014.