I guess I don’t think about it much, but being governor of New Jersey is kind of a big deal.
At least, our current governor really IS a big deal…in more ways than one. He might run for president, he has made all kinds of changes during his time in office, and people all over the country, if they didn’t know him beforehand, really started to take notice after Sandy, when his face (and that infamous fleece he wore 24/7) was everywhere.
Like other tragedies and natural disasters, the further away we as a society become removed chronologically from the events, the less prominence they occupy in our minds…especially if we or our loved ones were not directly affected.
However, the weather is warming up, it is great beach weather, and rather than go back to “business as usual,” perhaps we (and other New Jersey communities) would be better served if we all took some time out of our lives to help others for whom Sandy is still a front-of-mind reality. To still be struggling after eight months…to be displaced from your home for so long…to be working with FEMA and contractors and insurance companies and municipal governments for eight months and still see so little change in the amount of destruction in your neighborhood, your livelihood…No one wants to be in that situation, but some still are.
While Christie is spot-on to laud the magnanimous volunteer response that the Garden State benefitted from in the initial response to the storm, we need to focus now on long-term recovery. Beaches and shorelines need helping hands to remove additional debris loads. Communities need helping hands to start, continue, or put finishing touches on repairs to community centers, in parks, schools, daycare centers, and other buildings. If homeowners are lucky enough to be back in their homes, many elderly or handicapped residents could use a hand reestablishing their gardens, seeding their lawns, painting their porches, or performing other finishing touches to help them settle in to the new “normal.”
So let’s think about how we can lend a hand to continue what 473 volunteer organizations and over 165,000 volunteers have already started. Pass It Along will be setting up relief opportunities in July and August, so if you want to get involved, keep an eye out.
Until then…I’m not particularly glad Sandy is still making headlines, since most of it appears to be negative news (I get about 42 “Sandy” Google Alerts a day, so I know!) but if we support one another, maybe everyone will be able to reach beyond the news stories to create some feature articles and some Op/Eds for good, too.
–Maren Morsch, AmeriCorps Program Associate