In case you couldn’t tell I was pretty angry last time I posted. Well this post is now long overdue.
I am a bleeding heart do-gooder, the friend that everyone goes to when they’re looking for places to donate, ways to volunteer or organizations to support. As such my email and Facebook feed are filled to the brim with requests from various organizations for my help and after a disaster they explode. Before, during and after the hurricane I received incredible messages of concern and support from friends all over the country and the world, but my email and Facebook feed were strangely quiet. I was pissed. I have been consistently impressed with the response to other tragedies, but now when my friends and family, my city and my home state needed help I couldn’t seem to find any.
I began my last blog post by wondering if perhaps the national media wasn’t doing a good enough job of reporting what was going on here. It was the only explanation a cockeyed optimist like myself could come up with. Well, guess what… I was right.
From what I’ve heard it took a few days for the gravity of the situation to trickle out of the area. Once the rest of the world heard though, they stepped up in a big way. Utility crews, policemen, fire fighters all made their way from out of state to help us.
On Sunday I went out to Staten Island to volunteer and saw the devastation first hand. It was gut wrenching and something I’m not likely to forget, but I also saw incredible acts of kindness out there. Runners who’d come for the NYC Marathon came to Staten Island, where the race was to have begun, after it had been announced that the race would be canceled. They donned their running gear and set out to volunteer and help Staten Islanders in need. I even had a celebrity chef sighting out there! Renowned pastry chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres came out to Staten Island on a cold day to give out free hot chocolate.
I blogged about my experience in Staten Island for work and I just don’t have it in me right now to do it again, but I’ll tell you this; the words I heard more than any others were, “Thank you.” My fellow volunteers and I would sometimes happen upon a block where volunteers had already been through and so the supplies we were handing out weren’t needed. Still every single person we met (literally every one) took the time to thank us and it was humbling. I didn’t feel like I was doing all that much, but it was clear that just seeing people there who cared meant so much to these people who’d lost everything.
In the past few days I’ve also seen the internet explode with information about fundraisers going on for hurricane relief in other parts of the country so here is another heartfelt thank you to:
- The restaurants in Boston, Providence, Portland (Me), Portland (Or), Chicago, Athens (Ga), Dayton, Louisville, Seattle, San Francisco, Creswell (Or), Ada, (Mi), Minneapolis and Denver who are donating portions of their proceeds or hosting dinners for hurricane relief
- Food bloggers in Tennessee
- Residents who are organizing and donating to clothing and food drives in Wisconsin and Florida
- Runners in Wichita, KS who are organizing a run to raise money for hurricane relief
- The creators of the Facebook page “Cleveland loves the Jersey Shore Hurricane Relief Fund“
- The creators of the Facebook page, “Love from the Big Easy to the Big Apple“
I am sure that I’ve missed many many others so please let me know if you hear of anything in your own communities. Also, tune in to NBC Nightly News tonight where they’ll be highlighting some of the efforts around the country to help us here in NY/NJ.
My friend Lisa writes Ten Days of Thanksgiving every year over at her blog. In the 10 days (ok 10 posts) leading up to Thanksgiving she writes about something that she is thankful for in her life and she encourages others to participate if the project speaks to them. I’m going to try to participate this year and I’m starting today. I am incredibly thankful for the amazing kindness of people all over this country who are helping my home heal. I have no better way of saying this; hurricanes are really bad, but people are really really good.
Photos from Staten Island