A feature in the Western Massachusetts Medical Reserve Corps Newsletter

Great News!

It is with personal pride and gratitude that I share this article from the MIT news office. Morgan and Catria O’Neill of Monson, Massachusetts whose family home was severely damaged in the tornadoes of June 1, 2011, have taken the organic database that they developed in the midst of the recovery efforts to the level of software that might be useful in all hazards recovery and mitigation. They have entered the MIT IDEAS Global Challenges competition with the model (software and support solutoins) that they developed to capture the goodwill of spontaneous volunteers following a disaster.

Here is an excerpt from the MIT article:

“Q. Why did your team choose to address the issue of disaster relief?

A. After I graduated from Harvard College in May, I moved all of my things home, and the afternoon I put my boxes in the attic, the roof came off. There was a tornado, and my sister Morgan and I ended up running the local grassroots response in Monson, Mass.

We showed up at the de facto organizing center in Monson on day two. There was an old woman sitting at the front desk writing people’s names down as they came in and telling them to go home. There were a whole bunch of very large, very frustrated men holding chainsaws saying, “There are trees down everywhere. Tell me where I’m needed.”

Morgan and I built a pretty phenomenal system to manage these volunteers and realized, in the course of 17-hour days, that there has to be an easier way to do this. We reached out to other disaster organizers, and we found that no one had actually put the work that’s done on index cards into software form yet.” -Catria O’Neill

These brilliant ladies seized a catastrophic event and transformed it into a functional asset to assist others in times of emergencies or disasters. This deserves headline status!


— Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
Coordinator, MRC Western MA



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