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I believe that the young people of our community, ages 14 to 21, should be given the opportunity to volunteer their time to assist their neighbors with emergency services during periods of crisis or natural disaster. I am proposing, for the support of my Freeholder colleagues, that the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management organize a Cadet Program of young men and women interested in helping those in need.

This program, while strengthening the County's ability to respond to emergency situations, will not add to the cost of County Government. Tom Hollis, presently a volunteer with the Office of Emergency Management, will coordinate this program, which I believe is the first of its type on the East Coast. This Cadet Program will provide all the necessary training to the young men and women who volunteer to participate, and will encourage in them the spirit of volunteerism in times of emergency. The training received by these young volunteers will also enable them to be of service in their own municipalities should they so choose.

In order to qualify to participate in this Cadet Program, applicants must be of good moral character, have parental consent where necessary and, for those still in school, maintain at least a "C" average. So far, there has been considerable enthusiasm and a strong positive initial response to this proposal. At least 25 students and one teacher from the Middlesex County Vocational Technical High School have expressed an interest in participating in this Cadet Program. Any other young men and women, who qualify and are interested in participating in this new Cadet Program, should contact the Office of Emergency Management at area code
732-727-9009. This is a great opportunity for our young men and women to "get involved" and, at the same time, to strengthen our ability to respond to emergency situations without increasing the cost to the county property taxpayer, who will ultimately be the beneficiary of this program and these volunteers.

I hope the Board will join me in support for this new program. I extend my thanks to Tom Hollis for agreeing to step up and take on this new responsibility, and I commend the young men and women who have already expressed a desire to assist their neighbors. This program is a win-win situation, and Middlesex County will be the better for it.

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