The First Spouses Campaign is an initiative by the Safe America Foundation to involve First Families throughout the United States and its territories in encouraging emergency preparedness.
In a world that seems more divided than ever before, First Spouses are often the most well-liked and respected civic leaders in a community. These attributes make them a natural spokesperson for communicating the value of planning and practicing preparedness amongst the citizens of their state.
Through this engagement the Foundation hopes to achieve two goals:
- Establish First Spouses and Families as preparedness role models in their states; and
- Educate the public on the Foundation’s Text First. Talk Second. message of using text messaging to communicate non-emergency messages with loved ones after an emergency or disaster.
Specifically, the initiative asks First Ladies and Gentlemen to:
- Encourage citizens to “pledge” to develop and practice an emergency communication plan with their families, co-workers and/or civic organizations.
- Conduct a simple Text First. Talk Second. drill with the First Family, their staff or through a venue or event in their state where a large number of people would gather. Suggestions are: sporting events, such as baseball, football or soccer games; through major universities, corporations and organizations.
Championed initially in 2010 by former First Lady of West Virginia Gayle Manchin, First Spouses in the following states offered support for the program since that time: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
These First Spouses showed their support in the following ways: filming preparedness PSA’s, conducting texting drills, issuing proclamations and press releases and attending meetings.
Highlights from the 2010 program include a stadium texting drill at the West Virginia University vs. Marshall University football game, led by then-First Lady Manchin. Other key features were ads in USA Today and on ION Television Stations in key cities nationwide, featuring Mrs. Manchin encouraging individuals to “text” in an emergency. First Lady of Kentucky, Jane Bashear, issued a proclamation supporting Safe America’s Drill Down for Safety Campaign, while other First Spouses carried out their pledge to drill.
In 2011, Puerto Rican First Lady Lucé Vela was selected to be the Campaign’s new Chairwoman. In this role, she helped lead and organize preparedness drills in Puerto Rico; recorded Spanish and English language Text First. Talk Second Public Service Announcements; and represented the Safe America Foundation at the 2012 National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting. Another noteworthy development was the participation of the National Foundation for Women Legislators in promoting the goals of the First Spouses Campaign.