It's been 8 months since the storm, and we are back to life as usual - on the surface, at least. We have a few lingering issues (spotty Internet and stinky basements) and most of the restaurants and bars around our 'hood were still "cash only" due to Sandy up until about 6 weeks ago. But those issues are minor. Because of this hurricane-super-storm-transformer-blowing-power-killing-what-the-hell fest, we've learned a bigger lesson about keeping what we love close to us. Appreciating it. We all now also know that when something tries to destroy what we love, we not only can fight back ... we will fight back. (We also all probably have space heaters and five more blankets in the linen closet than most normal people.)
The reason I'm writing all of you now is to let you know that it was my decision to hang on to the last $2,000 and to find a single worthy cause to give something lasting back to the neighborhood instead of a ton of small donations. I had a few meetings back in March and that last $2,000 has been pledged to help replant La Plaza Cultural, which is the community park on the corner of Avenue C and 9th Street. You can visit their site here: http://laplazacultural.com
It's warmed up. Summer is here, and we are going to put in a new Cherry tree. We are going to replant the border plants that also got destroyed and hopefully, if there's anything left over, restock the Koi pond. (You don't want to know what happens to Koi fish in park pond when a hurricane comes through. It's not pretty. RIP little japanese fish. RIP.)
I felt like replanting the park with the last of the money would be something happy and lasting. The kids from the neighborhood play here. The adults throw fun parties. Occasionally there's a theater performance or a parade in spring. It's a great park and it needs replanting after the destruction. (And I'm also selfishly demanding that they name one of the new koi fish "jenny," obviously.)
Happy summer everyone!!
I love you all and want you to always remember that all of us who went through this are so thankful to you guys. Friend and strangers gave us so much support and it was an incredible experience and proof that we can fix anything. Thank you one last time. Thank you thank you.
If you are ever in nyc, please hit me up and we can go visit the fish together.
I'm sure you guys are all like "Oh really? Another email from this girl?!" but I thought I would share this since it's pretty awesome/crazy news about this fund.
The guys at GoFundMe got a phone call from NPR a few days ago. NPR is going to do a radio program on fundraising in the aftermath of Sandy, and they asked the guys that manage this site to suggest someone who was successful in fundraising efforts. My page got selected!
I'm meeting up with the crew from NPR this afternoon at 2pm and I'm going to take them all over Alphabet City, to the places where we hung out after the storm ... and to meet some of the people we have helped with this $10 grand.
One of the places we are going today is to the offices of the Lower East Side Girl's Club, which are located on Avenue D, right next to my building. They have a bakery called The Sweet Things Bakeshop that was completely destroyed during the flood. That bakery is an entrepreneurial/mentorship program for the girls living in lower-income situations in our neighborhood. We are giving them a check for $1,000 today to help build the bakery back.
I'm really excited to be on NPR and that our little area will get some cool press that will hopefully inspire more people to help out down here. We are still getting back on our feet thanks to you guys. I'll post the broadcast when it runs.
Wish me luck on NPR and thank god it's radio because I suck at being on camera.
I just got the final check in the mail today, and I'm closing this account right after posting this email to all of you.
I just wanted to send a final message and tell you how thankful I am ... how thankful so many people are that don't even know you guys who donated. I know it's made their Thanksgiving because it's really defined mine this year. I actually just gave a $200 Target gift card to a family who lost everything. It went out this morning from the fund. Good things are still happening daily with this money.
This world is a really small, connected place. I think in the day-to-day it's easy to forget that. So, in a way, I'm thankful for Hurricane Sandy (even as I sit here with no heat - yes, it's out again today in my apt), because she was a reminder ... a terrible refresher ... an unwanted (but possibly needed) reset button for us here in NYC.
I'm reminded: that my neighbors are my neighbors, whether I know their names or not. Every day is a new chance to get to know them.
I'm refreshed: in my outlook on what's important in the long run and what's not. And in hot showers. Literally.
I'm reset: in heading into 2013, loving the memories of a week without power or cell phones or those modern conveniences we all take for granted. My friends took me in and we ate on the street and we learned to love NYC in a way we never knew possible.
I hope all of you are headed into a warm house today, to eat food and to be with people who love you.
I'm headed to a bar filled full of my neighbors. We will watch the parade, eat a giant turkey and drink beer mid-day.
Thanks for saving our village. We love you for it. And if you want to donate more, please hit up Occupy Sandy. Those guys do great work.
We are so happy and thankful for all of the donations. Right now, I'm trying to manage these funds we've raised and make sure they go to those most in need, with every dollar stretching as far as it can go.
My personal goal was to raise $10k. We've hit that and then some, so our fundraising is complete. I know some of you might wish to contribute, but it's my hope that you will now turn and give it to some other organization. I'm a one-woman operation and my collecting has come to a wonderful (yet necessary) end. I simply don't have the ability to manage any more than I'm doing right now.
So, if you still wish to give, it's my hope that you will give to Occupy Sandy. They have been a crucial, wonderful part of the recovery efforts. You can find them here:
6 Days 96 People from around the world = Over $10,000
We did it!
(And it happened a hell of a lot faster than I ever thought it would!)
I want to say thank you again to all of you for giving your time and your thoughts and your energy to our neighborhood and the other places that were hit by this storm.
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd hit Charleston, South Carolina. I was in school there at the time. Water flooded our circuit breakers, and my house caught on fire about 2 weeks after the storm.
My roommate and I lost everything in that fire.
While I had insurance for the big stuff, it didn't seem to shake the sadness when I woke up each morning for the next few months and realized the things I'd loved - my grandmother's scarf, my photos from high school, notes from friends, my favorite t-shirts and hundreds of pages of my writing - were all gone.
Every time the insurance company told me to "go replace things," it felt horribly ironic, given that the only things I wanted to surround myself with in that time of crisis were mementos ... things that mattered and had sentimental value. They were all gone. They were all irreplaceable.
Then friends started calling. They called every day to make sure I was ok. They went shopping with me, wrote me new notes. We took new photos. Life got rebuilt.
I know what a lot of people are feeling in the wake of this storm, because I personally went through it. There was no Facebook back then ... no Gofundme ... no giant network of social media. We are blessed in this capacity in the wake of this storm, and this fundraising experience is something I will never, ever forget. I feel very blessed and very loved looking at this total.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You have literally warmed people, fed people, clothed people, and most importantly helped people realize that even if they lost everything, someone will help them rebuild. Life will be ok.
I'm going to shut this page down in the next day or so. Not because I don't want to do this anymore, but because at some point, I have to go back to working as a writer/photographer. The remaining $5,000 I have yet to spend will still go daily to those in need. We are talking about hiring a food truck to drive to heavily damaged towns and feed people one day. We have a lot of ideas, but rest assured I will spend it in the most worthy, needy places. If you have ideas or know someone in need, please email me. Jennyadamsfreelance@gmail.com.
Love you all. Smile. You made something amazing happen.
We are less than $400 away from our $10k goal!
After picking my jaw up off the floor, I got on a plane this morning for Alabama. That's where I'm from - for those of you who don't know me personally. (I really needed a hug from my mama)
It's sunny and hovering around 60 degrees here, but don't worry NYC, I haven't forgotten you. Not for a second! I'm only staying for 2 nights and then I'm back in action East Village-style on Sunday afternoon!
Meanwhile .... in other cities, people have stepped up and given time and energy and donations to our corner of the world in amazing ways. I want to give them a call out:
In San Francisco, the gorgeous bartenders over at Tradition gave us their tips, totaling $500 in one night. If you are in SF and reading this, drop in to Tradition one night this weekend and tip big. These ladies deserve it.
Miles north in Portland, Oregon, writer/drinker/man of international awesome Mr. Ted Munat and a few friends threw a benefit party at Paadee with Novo Fogo Cachaca. The proceeds from that totaled another $500 for our fund.
Finally, my aunt and uncle down here in Alabama gave a full grand to the cause!
Even though I'm down South for 48 hours, Chris Sevier (who's a temporary transplant from Nashville and a strapping, ex-military lawyer) is filling my shoes as we speak.
And, yes, ladies ... he's single. (And probably going to kill me for posting that).
Chris is at Target right now buying blankets with some of the fund to hand out at New York's Dream Center in Chelsea. Thanks Chris!
That's all for now, but if you are out there and in need in New York or New Jersey, hit us up. Have money, will help!
I woke up this morning to this email from my newly discovered neighbor, Robert:
"Hi, I live in the building to the left of this picture and we still don't have heat, hot water, or power. We asked our landlord for updates and he said we wont receive heat for a month, and power was uncertain. My wife and I are lucky and staying at a friends in Greenpoint while he's on vacation. However, there are many in our building who don't have that option. There are at least 3 apartments of older residents and another with a kid. It's unbelievable they are expected to ride out the winter and still pay rent with no heat, hot water, or power. If you can do anything to help the people of 343 east 8th street it would be much appreciated. Thank you for doing this."
Let's figure out ways to help out Robert's neighbors in 343 E. 8th. I live at 394, so these guys are right next door. Which means, I will make hot meals, check on elderly, run laundry down for them, bring blankets and space heaters up (and also go Godzilla on the landlord since this is totally illegal) ... but once again, I need funds to do all this. I also need some free legal advice .... anyone? anyone? Bueller?
Thank you to all the funders out there! Keep spreading the word.
ALSO - if anyone is in our hood or in NYC and wants to take on a lovely project with me to save those stranded in 343, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of today, we are 60% there for the goal of $10,000. No one is laughing harder than me.
I'll let you guys in on something. Originally, the goal limit on this thing was $1,000.
We were sitting in a bar and it occurred to me that Gofundme might stop accepting donations once we hit that limit. I kinda panicked and was all "Shit! Should we just make it $10k? We will never hit that."
So I added a zero to the goal ... using my iPhone ... in a bar.
I figured we'd raise around $1,500 and call it a day.
Uh ... clearly everyone likes giving away hundreds of dollars to those in need! Who knew?!
A big thanks goes out to Gus Harold, who lugged bags all over town with me today. And to Erika Ordonez, who spent the morning in the soup kitchen. And to Diane, who works at K-Mart and gave us 10% off ... just to be awesome.
We dropped off dozens of blankets and jackets and socks. 50 hats, 50 scarves and 50 mittens. 50 Power bars, Clorox bleach, rubber gloves and can openers.
AND! We somehow managed to find 12 packages of D Batteries!
(If you live in Lower Manhattan right now, you know that finding a store with a D Battery is the equivalent of finding Narnia ... in your shoe.)
Today, we spent roughly $900 for people in need. Oh, and we gave Diane at K-Mart a $200 gift card to give to her sister in New Jersey. Her sister lost everything in the storm, but we are working to make it better.
Thanks again. Anyone wants to help me tomorrow, holler!
I woke up and went down to the Trinity Mission at 9am. We gave out a hot lunch to about 150 hungry people, including all the bread we bought yesterday.
We then packed up groceries for low income families in our neighborhood.
Most days they only serve food, but today was special. Each person who came in was told he or she could go upstairs and choose from this big pile of blankets, jackets and sweaters that we purchased with your donations.
So many of the people came down and told us that those were the first "new" items they'd ever had.
I, of course, cried for the 19th time this week.
Then tonight, I hit up a grocery with friends and bought another $300 worth of cans, rice, serving dishes, bleach, baby wipes, diapers, plates, spoons, trashbags, sterno and batteries. My friend Angela is cooking for several hundred tonight and will serve them hot rice and beans all day tomorrow in the most brutally hit areas of Staten and Red Hook.
As Robin Williams once said in a great movie called Club Paradise, "No man is an island, Jack." Amen Robin Williams. Amen.
We need some help down here. Our little section of Manhattan - affectionately known as Alphabet City - was completely flooded when the East River broke its banks during Hurricane Sandy. (See our awful photo)
This area has a lot of heart, and it's also got a lot of housing projects, lower income families and people who were struggling to make do before this storm.
I've been talking to neighbors and friends on our street, where most of the buildings took on 10 to 15 feet of water in the basements. Besides being weeks away from restoring running water, power and heat in a lot of them, the housing projects are in dire need of assistance.
One of the worst situations is in our building. Our wonderful Super Tony's entire basement apartment was destroyed when the river broke into the building. He's lost EVERYTHING. He had to go and buy clothes yesterday. It's heartbreaking. I went to visit him today to see what I could do, and the situation in his apartment brought us both to tears.
Please ... please, please help me help out my neighbors and friends down here. Anything helps. $2 would help if enough people give.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you know me, you know you can trust me to make sure anything you give goes to those who truly need it.