Direct experience. Videos, pictures, and secondhand stories will do the situation in New York and New Jersey no justice. After what may seem to some as a long few days of rounding up supplies, food, water, toiletries, clothing, loading building materials, driving two hours to New York, unloading materials, aiding in clean up recording footage, interviewing people, then driving home from two hours from New York, I found myself home, showered, in my warm bed, in my warm house, and honestly felt completely drained.
The next morning, I struggled to turn over in an attempt to get out of bed. My phone ringing, buzzing with voicemails, emails, twitter and facebook messages, my barking dog waiting to be let outside, my four cats surrounding my bed meowing waiting to be fed, all was purposely ignored for more sleep...5 more minutes, 5 more minutes.
I was then quickly reminded of the people of Oakwood Beach community in Staten Island, New York who had no covers, no heat, no bed, no shower, no food, and no homes. The feeling I referred to as "tired" vanished instantly. I sprung out of bed with the same level of gratitude as George Bailey at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life."
Thursday morning I received a call from a friend of mine suggesting a road trip on Saturday to help the people affected by hurricane Sandy. Over the past few years Philadelphia has developed an activist community known as Truth, Freedom, Prosperity. This group originally started as a means for educational outreach, and has since turned into something much greater. The group has attracted some of the most selfless people I could ever imagine and I'm beyond proud to call them my family.
With just 48 hours notice the group rounded up five truckloads packed with donations. Food, water, clothing, toiletries, and building materials. We left Philadelphia Saturday morning and headed up to Oakwood Beach community at Staten Island New York. Our mission was threefold, to deliver donations, attempt to boost morale by reassuring everyone that they're not alone, and to document as much as we could.
Quite honestly, the list of people to thank for this is extremely long, but if you had a hand in this effort, big or small, I can't even begin to thank you enough. I'm eternally grateful to have you in my life. As a friend said, we hardly made a dent in the problem, but it was truly a solid effort from the City of Brotherly Love. This was the first of many efforts in shining light on what is otherwise under-reported in Staten Island.
For more information, contacts, and donations, go to www.StatenIslandRelief.org every little bit helps.