A State of War Zone: An Account of Helping Hurricane Sandy Relief Victims

After spending Friday, November 9th – my 40th birthday – and the following Saturday morning packing and sorting the generously donated supplies we received for our Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, my volunteers and I closed up several expansive trucks and vans and set out for the New Jersey Turnpike. Every mile we traveled was like a precursor to the nightmarish story we would see when we arrived in the communities that had been hit the hardest, with trees fallen and scattered along the road.

As we come off the turnpike and took various local streets to our drop-off location, we got a foretaste of the worst. It was two weeks after the monstrous “Frankenstorm,” and most of the areas we drove through had power, but it was clear that it was only recently restored as many people were outside cutting up the trees that had fallen in their yards.  Trunks and limbs were bent sideways, snapped in half, sheared off, and ripped out of the ground – everywhere.  To make the scene even more chilling, there was still plenty of snow on the ground, even though for several days it had been about 50 degrees.  What a combination, I thought, surveying the damage – a hurricane followed by a nor’easter, with 12 inches of snow.

At the drop-off location, we were greeted by at least 60 cheering New Jersey friends.  Many of the areas we had intended to enter were still locked down by the National Guard and only those with local ID’s were allowed access, and usually just for an hour at a time.  Other locations were still locked off to even the residents that inhabited them.  We quickly realized that we needed to develop an alternative plan, and Justin Lotano’s father talked to a friend who owns a large warehouse where they train adults with developmental disabilities.  It was the perfect solution: we had a huge team to unload the trucks, the boxes went through the door and were immediately sorted into bins, and then taken into another room where other volunteers were filling the orders of needy residents.  Within an hour of arriving, our donations were heading out the front door to neighbors in need.

My husband and I left around 4:00 to tour some of the areas that were accessible.  We visited Union Beach and were in utter shock.  People were moving about the business of throwing out the contents of their lives; trash was piled up 10 feet all around us.  Water had filled the 1st floors of houses and for some, the upper levels as well.  Houses and businesses were completely destroyed.  It smelled of rot as everything was decaying in mountainous heaps, still soaking wet.  Sand had piled up in dunes blocks from the beach and the water was as calm as can be in spite of the surrounding chaos.  We were told to leave by the Sheriff’s office when the sun went down.

It has been described as a war zone, and in many ways, it looked and felt like a place that had seen battle and been ransacked.  What I learned in that brief time was that while what we did was amazing – especially in 8 days – it was barely a drop in the bucket. In fact, as many families struggle to find shelter and share quarters with family and friends or occupy hotels, all the materials we brought them have no real space to occupy until they find temporary but long term housing arrangements.

While we received a lot of great publicity for what we did, it wasn’t why we did it; we did it because it was the right thing to do.  We did it because there was a need and people wanted to help but they didn’t know how – Justin, Chrissy and I created an avenue so they could.

It was amazing to see how the business community of Baltimore came together to support our neighbors to the North.  With that I say thank you to Von Paris, Walters Relocation and Easy Movers for donating their trucks, drivers, boxes and time.  We say thank you to HealthPlan Headquarters, the Downtown Dog Resort and Engility for being our drop off locations, helping us to sort and pack, and most importantly for allowing us to infiltrate their facilities for a full week.  We say thank you to Joel’s Auto Shop, SAIC and the Baltimore Orioles for doing drives that supported us.  I also need to thank Susan Katz of the Growth Coach, Kathleen Dorsey of Global Results and Marci Yankelov of Century 21, who not only used their networks to send around our flyer soliciting supplies, but more importantly, connected us to several of the key players listed above.  Without them, this would not have happened.

Final thanks to my husband, Matt Desrosiers, who challenged me to make something positive out of the situation that was consuming me – and had to cancel the surprise party he had been planning for me in order to help me do so. I must also extend my gratitude to Justin and Chrissy Lotano, who had the same vision of filling their personal vehicles with supplies and making the trip up north to offer relief to Sandy victims – and agreed to join forces with me to make our endeavors even more effective. On Saturday after the drop-off, Justin and I bonded over a laugh, equally shocked that our small start had evolved into a full throttle, well-rounded relief mission.

I have no doubt that my 40th birthday will be one to remember for years to come.  I hope that in the upcoming months, all of you will continue to support the efforts in New York and New Jersey. Be the springboard for their recovery to normalcy – they are going to need you.

 

Give Back: Donate to Springboard’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

I’ve been talking a lot on the blog lately about embodying the spirit of giving not just during the upcoming holiday season, but all year round. When the monstrous “Frankenstorm” swept through the east coast recently, I was fortunate enough to not be hit too hard by the storm. With electricity intact as I tuned into the news, I was flooded with images of flooded streets, wrecked homes, and boarded up businesses.

The story that devastated me the most and prompted my call to action was that of 39-year old Glenda Moore, whose 2- and 4-year old sons were ripped from her arms during Hurricane Sandy when her car stalled and got stuck in the rising waters. As she retreated from her vehicle, the three were hit hard by a wave, and losing her grip on them, they were swept away by the powerful waters; the water’s force was so staggering that her car flipped over, too.

In spite of going to several houses nearby for help, requesting they make calls to the police, she was turned away, left to helplessly cope with the loss of her sons on her own. As a mother of a 2-year old boy, I called my husband when I got word of this tragedy, asking, “What has become of us that in a horrific storm we just shut the door on a young woman trying to rescue her babies?”

My husband challenged me to do something positive about it, and together we decided we would fill his truck with donations and drive it up to New Jersey. I posted on Facebook about our efforts, and Justin Lotano, a financial advisor with Ameriprise in Timonium who grew up in New Jersey said that he was doing the same, and suggested we join forces. Though most of his family and friends back home weathered through the storm without much damage, the wreckage from neighborhoods he knew well and places he had vacationed during summers moved him to do something.

What started out as a small gesture on behalf of a few people to take a truck and SUV with supplies to several of the New Jersey communities that were met with the most destruction after Hurricane Sandy has turned into a full operation with three commercial moving trucks worth of goods. We will be making the trip on Saturday, November 10th, thanks to donations generously provided by local residents and friends.

The donations will be sent to fire departments and churches in towns like Seabright, Tom’s River, Hazlet, Belmar, and Union Beach to help with the Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts.

We are still actively seeking donations of the following items. Please see below for information about our convenient donation centers. Special thanks to Marci Yankelov, who I’ve never before met but who saw my post on a friend’s Facebook page, for helping me coordinate two of the drop-off locations.

  • Water (1 liter or smaller for easy transport)
  • Canned Food
  • Rice and Beans (5 and 10 pound bags)
  • Powdered Milk
  • Baby Formula
  • Baby Bottles
  • Pet Food and Supplies
  • First Aid Kits
  • Battery Operated Radios
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Portable Generators
  • Paper Napkins, Cups and Plastic utensils
  • Non-electric can openers and utility knifes
  • Duct Tape
  • Diapers
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Freshly Laundered Clothes
  • Blankets
  • Coats
  • Shoes
  • Sweaters
  • Feminine Products and wipes
  • Disinfectant and bleach
  • Personal care items of soap and toilet paper
  • Plastic Tarps
  • Furniture

The following drop-off locations are happy to receive whatever you are able to supply:

HealthPlan Headquarters

        Bel Air Beltway Plaza
        7630 Bel Air Road
        Baltimore, MD 21236

10-6 M-TH

Downtown Dog Resort

        Behind the 1st Mariner Bank
        3311 Eastbourne Ave
        Baltimore, MD 21224

M-Th 9-4

Engility on Post at APG

        6280 Guardian Gateway
        Baltimore, MD 21236
        Aberdeen Proving Ground

Thursday 3-8pm

For more information on how to get involved, or if you have any questions about the Hurricane Sandy Relief Drive, call Karin Schwartz 443.413.5826, Justin Lotano 732.616.4747 or Marci Yankelov 443.858.9113.

Sources:

Glenda Moore: Neighbours refused to help mother whose sons were being swept away by flood

Image Source

Springboard CEO Karin Schwartz: From the Board Room to the Gridiron

The other side of CEO Karin Schwartz

This May will mark the end of Springboard CEO Karin Schwartz’s 14 seasons of coed football.  Is this her last season? There’s been talk about Karin hanging up her cleats for good, but will she really do it? Only time will tell.

Three years ago, after 22 years of playing lacrosse, Karin hung up her sticks. But even post maternity leave, she continues to play football!

In 1999 Karin joined the Baltimore Sports and Social Club, better known as BSSC, in their 2nd season of coed football, and a few years later moved her team to Sobo Sports.  Karin and her team play football in both the spring and fall and yes, she catches touchdowns.

Karin is not your typical CEO.

She’s played in the “mud bowl,” where she broke her foot and still continued to play for a full year before she even knew it was broken. And even after that, she cheered her team on in the playoffs from the sidelines…on crutches after having her foot surgically repaired.  She’s played in tournaments in M&T Bank Stadium  – the last tournament, her team of 5 men and 3 women went to the final four against teams with no female representation (Karin even scored a couple touchdowns on some of the guys).

Not many CEOs can say all that.

If you have any questions about Karin Scwartz, please contact Springboard Business Development by calling 410-832-7560 or click here today!

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Springboard offers outsourced sales solutions for businesses in the professional services arena. Our approach to business development makes it easy to find new clients without the financial  burden of an in-house business developer.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn as well!

Springboard in the Community :: Philanthropy :: Community Service

This May, Springboard is working with the Vocational Services Team at Humanim in East Baltimore City to put on an event for high school juniors and seniors. The event is focused on how to take the training these young men and women have received through their work with Humanim and translate that into full time work at some of the top organizations in Baltimore City.

We at Springboard have contributed in several ways, including supplying guest speakers, business leaders, and opportunities!

About Humanim:

Humanim has over 40 years of success providing workforce development, mental health, neuro-rehabilitation and developmental disabilities services to those most in need across Maryland. Today, Humanim has expanded that vision to create a sustainable economic model for the provision of workforce development services combining occupational skills training, business development and social enterprise. The new model sprung from a visionary project that board and staff undertook in one of the most impoverished areas in East Baltimore. Our services have grown to provide support for the growing and diverse needs of the people and communities we serve.

For more information on Humanim, visit http://www.humanim.com/!

If you have any questions and the Humanim Event in May, please contact Springboard Business Development by calling 410-832-7560 or click here today!

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Springboard offers outsourced sales solutions for businesses in the professional services arena. Our approach to business development makes it easy to find new clients without the financial  burden of an in-house business developer.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn as well!