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Helping Nonprofits, Child Care Providers and Senior Centers with Disaster Preparedness Efforts in San Mateo County

Case Story

Thrive is the alliance of Nonprofits for San Mateo County, established in 2000. In the wake of Katrina, members created the Thrive Emergency Task Force to “create specialized training for the nonprofit and faith-based sectors that follows the training format of other emergency preparedness programs, so that we are all on the same page,” according to Dena Gunning, who also works with the City of San Bruno’s Community Preparedness Committee. The Thrive Emergency Preparedness Program for Nonprofits was established to pool local community resources and to develop a regional mutual aid collaboration in the Bay Area as well as in San Mateo County. “We are trying to make sure that the nonprofits that help people are still able to function during a disaster,” said Gunning. “The goal is to provide the tools and technical assistance that San Mateo County nonprofits need to strengthen their capacity and preparedness efforts by maintaining a vibrant network of disaster-resilient organizations. Our community’s vitality and well-being are dependent upon the services of our nonprofit and faith-based organizations. Why wouldn’t we want to ensure their resilience?”

Thrive is working in partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services to create a nonprofit safety communications network. So far, the Thrive Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Project has trained 14 licensed HAM radio operators at local nonprofits. The idea is to enable nonprofits to communicate through Thrive their needs and resources following a catastrophic event, such as an earthquake, that would potentially disable all other forms of communication.

Gunning also spoke about the “4Cs Ready” disaster preparedness program for child care providers organized by the Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County. The six-hour training program for child care providers starts with personal preparation, helps them write an emergency preparation plan, teaches fire suppression methods and suggests ways to help children deal with disaster.

The City of San Bruno’s Community Preparedness Committee offers free emergency preparedness planning to senior care facilities and child care centers. Gunning reports about a 35 percent response rate from the senior centers the committee has contacted. Those that responded have all received free training and supplies.

For more information, contact Dena Gunning, Emergency Services Specialist with Thrive, the Child Care Coordinating Council (4Cs) and the San Bruno Community Preparedness Committee, at 650-339-0721 or

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