Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strength Through Adversity (i know, i know. you've heard it before, but it's true.)

The aftermath of this storm just gets worse and worse. News of stores, deciding after sifting through the rubble, that they aren't coming back is bad news for the town (and, of course, the shop owners and their employees). Buildings that thought they would have a quick return are finding that the damage is worse than expected. And there are so many people that have been left homeless. This whole thing is an unimaginable nightmare for Jerseyans. We aren't used to hurricanes. Nor'easters, yes. Giant snowstorms, yes. Hail. But we haven't been hit this hard by a hurricane in as long as I can remember.

They say that adversity makes us stronger. Perhaps it does. I know that I, personally, would rather be a bit weaker and had fewer challenges in my life. We can't control what happens to us, but can we control how we respond.

Mountain Lakes had lots of trees down, and a very extended power loss. Some people had water in their basement. No one here got hit anywhere near as hard as Denville. Some businesses were destroyed, and a large chunk of them were, at the very least, out of commission for a few days. At the time of this post, some (I cannot remember all) of the stores and eateries still closed are Doc's Kitchen, Viking Bakery, A Dash of Thyme Gourmet, Denville Liquors, Denville Dairy, Sergio & Co. Italian Specialties, Denville Dog, That's Amore, Spiess Studios, Faith & Begorra, Write On! and Miami Rice Pudding. 

We cannot control that these stores, and something like 200 homes, were hit hard, but we can control what we choose to do about it. Mothers and More, Denville Chapter, is asking for new and gently used toys and kids books for families who lost these things. I dropped off a couple of bags of things today (birthday and Christmas gifts my son got but never opened) for distribution. I also dropped off a brand new backpack. (For drop-off information, please contact me.) I created the Save Sergio & Co. fund with Fara Aliotta, a friend who works at Wells Fargo. People think insurance covers everything. It doesn't. I've read that FEMA doesn't give to businesses (I am not sure if this is the case, but it's what I've read), and his building didn't have flood insurance, so his whole (work) life got washed away, and $150,000 worth of supplies went with it. 

Both Ward and I feel very lucky. We didn't experience any damage or power loss from this storm, so we really want to help those in need. Ward's been selling a limited edition, signed and numbered photograph of Sergio & Co. (I think he has four left) and is donating 100% of the proceeds to Sergio. People have been so responsive that it shows me two things: people care, and people love Sergio's.

The town started The Township of Denville Hurricane Irene Relief Fund. I just heard about it tonight, talked to Ward, and we decided to do a small fundraiser (the town is trying to get Kevin Jonas to do a concert to raise money -- you up for it, Kevin?). We are using a photo that Ward took on the Monday following the storm, of the Denville exit off of Route 80, and making them into postcards. We are charging $1.25 per card, and donating 50% of the proceeds to the township's hurricane relief fund. We are hoping that stores buy them in bulks of 50, because then we can take the full amount, give the 50% to the town right away, and the let the shops sell them to boost morale. We've sold a bunch already on etsy; they will ship after September 19th (hot off the press)! 

Here's the postcard, that reads "The best place to be. Denville, NJ
And here is the photo that it came from...

Exit signs are the way to go (get it?)

You can get your own postcard, or a bunch, by going to the Denville Fundraiser Postcard link (click here). If you need more than are listed, we are happy to order more. Just send us a message.

Hurricane Irene has done quite a lot of damage. I've learned that I have to always be prepared for an emergency (candles, flashlights, blankets in wintertime (see this easy & cheap, make it yourself, very warm blanket by clicking here), bottled water, powered milk (for cereal), and lots of dry goods. More importantly, I've learned that none of us really can control anything, that anything can happen. We all need to support and rely on each other. 

We need to shop locally. Seriously, enough with Wal-Mart. Pay a little more to shop in an independently owned store. Go to the local hardware stores for tools and supplies, and local garden centers for plants and trees, instead of getting all that at Home Depot or Lowe's, go to the local health food store instead of Whole Foods. (I just heard that the newly opened shop, Simplify Marketplace in Mountain Lakes, will have fresh flowers every Thursday. Get yours there!) The American way is to support one another, buy American, and care for our neighbors. If you were hit hard by this storm, ask for help and allow people to help you. If you were blessed to walk away unscathed, please help those in need.

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