I sat here staring at this blank blog post window for about an hour now, deciding if I should write, what I should write, and do I have anything to write about? I think the answer is yes, I do have stuff I want to say, but I'm just too tired to say them. I've been working a new shift at work and it's totally exhausting the crap out of me. I work 3-11pm. I also have a half hour commute to and from work, and in addition, I still need to wake up at 5:30-6am to wake up both kids and get them ready for school. Ugh. My eye bags have developed their own eye bags.
Most of the blogging I have been doing as of late has been over at NEPA Blogs. We have grown exponentially in recent months, so I've been quite busy seeking out new blogs, updating our social media platforms and getting local media coverage as well. Most days I spend double the amount of blogging energy units that I have. What's a blogging energy unit? Read Harold's post about it here.
Anyway, the point of this blog post wasn't really to blather on about how exhausted I am, although I think that I did a good job beating that horse so much so that its on its way to the glue factory.
What I wanted to talk about was how humbled I was to help out flood victims. After the September flooding from the remnants of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Lee, there was a great need for EVERYTHING for the victims. Many people had water well up into the first and in some cases, even the second stories of their homes. One of the most heartbreaking areas that I've seen is an area that I drive through practically every day….West Nanticoke. I drove through there the Monday after the flood and you cannot imagine the devastation. Here's a picture I snapped of the area near JJ Banko's Seafood:
AFTER THE FLOOD:
DURING THE FLOOD (same area, but closer up):
The first day I drove through this area after Rte. 29 reopened, there were piles of rubbish that lined both sides of the street which also lined parts of Rte. 11. I spied a shed that was moved from one part of a yard to another the flood waters relocated it on top of a fence. Another shed was nearly out in the middle of the street. There was no electricity, so none of the traffic lights worked. The three gas stations in the area had water go up as high as their roof so they were all closed. Porta-potties were scattered throughout the side streets flooding pretty much ruins everything in your house, including the plumbing, right down to the studs. My eyes welled up with tears. It was hard to see the people cleaning out their houses. I was compelled to just pull over, put my car in park, throw caution to the wind and start helping. Unfortunately, I can't tell you the last time that I've had a tetanus shot, and with my track record with needles, its not something that I look forward to getting. I also am short on time with this new schedule. There had to be another way to help the victims out, I thought to myself.
Along comes, NEPAConnect.com. The website was posted in the Wyoming Valley 2011 Flood page that I helped administer on Facebook. The website promised to be a portal where people with needs could connect with people offering up items for donations. I immediately went to the website and posted an ad. I knew exactly what I could donate! A few years ago, one of Rich's friends found out that his girlfriend was pregnant…and then he found out he was getting laid off from his job. At this point, my kiddos had already outgrown most of the baby "stuff" I had lying around. We offered it to him and he graciously accepted. Recently, we received most of the furniture back as his child is getting older. It has been sitting in my garage taking up space and collecting dust most of the summer. There was a lot of misc stuff. I had a crib mattress, a walker, a changing table, a stroller travel system w/ extra base, a travel swing, and a high chair. We had also loaned out 2 pack and plays, which I thought we got back, but it turns out the person we lent them out to is still using them. Finally, last Friday, I received an email from the NEPAConnect website from a volunteer at the Tilbury Fire Company, which is not too far from where JJ Banko's is (pictured above).
The story goes like this: Someone in West Nanticoke who is raising her grandson (6 months old), lost EVERYTHING in the flood. She needed everything, but especially stuff to care for her grandson. With the lack of sleep that I was on, and my horrible schedule, I wasn't able to deliver the stuff until Sunday morning. I took the stuff to the Tilbury Fire Company, which was setup as a temporary gathering place/cafeteria/donation center. I walked into the building, which btw, is HUGE (I was never inside of it before), and it was all completely gutted. Even though the Fire Company sits far back off of the Susquehanna, they still took in about 3 feet of water. There were workers inside stripping the building down to the studs. I quickly found the person heading up the donation center "Bonnie". Bonnie had lost everything in the flood herself, and her house was destroyed as well, but there she was, heading up the donation center….if that isn't commitment, I don't know what is. I explained to her who I was, and what I had. Apparently, everyone knew the story of the woman with the baby very well. I received help unloading some of the items from the jeep and was on my way….but I didn't feel right. I didn't have a pack and play to give, even though my ad mentioned that I did. Also, there were only 2 packages of diapers on site. One was there when I got there, and I brought a package of size 6 diapers that I had left over from right before the kids were potty trained.
I drove to Old Navy after that and returned a pair of jeans for my daughter that were the wrong size. I got to thinking that I could probably find a cheap pack and play at *gulp* Wal-Mart as well as cheap diapers. I stopped there and sure enough, there was a pack and play on sale for 49.99 and diapers (although generic) were 5.99. I bought two packages of diapers and the pack and play and made my way back to the Fire Company. I dropped off the items, and was greeted by two people who told me that I had just missed the woman who the donation was for, but she took one look at the items and started to cry. Of course that made me want to cry as well. What a humbling thing.
A few hours later I received this email:
Dear Michelle, So sorry I missed you today. Thank you so much for the stuff. Just so you know it was distributed to 2 women, the one I told you about and the other is due any day. They were so grateful and cried when they recv'd the stuff. I just wanted to say "Thank You" and to let you know all of the items were given to 2 deserving women.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. BXXXXXXXX
I honestly think this is the best most rewarding $60.00 I have spent all year. The problem with community service is, once you get involved, you realize there are always more people out there that need help. I always wish there was more I could do to help out. But, I'm only one person and do what I can. That is the best I can do, I think.