SGI-USA Youth Participate in Wildfire Relief Efforts in Southern California, USA
SGI-USA youth took an active part in relief operations for out-of-control wildfires that swept across southern California toward the end of October 2007 that incinerated more than 800 square miles and destroyed some 2,100 homes.
From the inception of the wildfires, SGI-USA representatives in each locale worked to confirm the safety of SGI members and their neighbors. SGI-USA Vice General Director Cliff Sawyer, national Young Men's Division Leader Nathan Gauer and SGI youth volunteers mobilized in San Diego, which suffered the greatest damage.
Many volunteers were ordered out of the relief operation areas to avoid confusion, but SGI members, because of their initiative and quick response times were requested to remain and support relief efforts at two emergency evacuation centers where hundreds of people took refuge.
One location was the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego, where more than 50 local SGI-USA volunteers were entrusted with a central role of serving meals, registering evacuees, controlling traffic, ensuring security and organizing donation drop-off and collection. The SGI-USA group worked in tandem with the Red Cross and Mormon youth volunteers.
Mr. Gauer remarked, "Our effectiveness comes from the training we received in the SGI-USA youth support groups--Soka Group (young men's traffic control), Gajokai (young men's security) and the Byakuren Group (young women's activity support group)."
[Adapted from an SGI-USA report, an article in the November 9, 2007 issue of the World Tribine and an article in the November 6, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]