Last night as I watched World News with Charles Gibson, I waited for their Person of the Week segment. This is always a highlight for me, after a week of news that can really rattle my chains, I look forward to having my faith in mankind restored. This week was no exception.
The story was about a group of New Yorkers who have found a way to thank all those who reached out to them in their time of need.
Rebuilding Across America
"Jeff Parness, the founder of New York Says Thank You, recently headed to Iowa to lend a hand at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch, which was destroyed last summer by a tornado that left four boys dead.
Charlie Vitchers, a construction superintendent, supervised the recovery effort at Ground Zero. He's now supervising the building of the boy scout camp's new chapel, using trees felled by the tornado."
Note: The video connected with the article is not last night's segment.
Well, after seeing this story I needed to learn more, so this morning I went to the website for New York Says Thank You and found this information:
"From an act of extraordinary evil on September 11, 2001, Americans responded with so many acts of extraordinary kindness. People from all across the United States poured into New York City to volunteer, to pay their respects, and to be with us in our darkest moment.
New Yorkers will never forget that.
The mission of The New York Says Thank You Foundation is to send volunteers from New York City each year on the 9/11 Anniversary to help rebuild communities around the country affected by disasters. It is our way of commemorating the extraordinary love and generosity extended to New Yorkers by Americans from all across the United States in the days, weeks, and months following September 11th."
I created the following mosaic from images found on the foundations website (click to enlarge):
"The New York Says Thank You Foundation has helped rebuild homes burned in the Southern California wildfires (2004); replanted 428 trees in two small Illinois towns devastated by an F3 tornado (2005); rebuilt a 140-year-old church destroyed in a deadly Indiana tornado (2006); and rebuilt the tornado-ravaged home of a Texas family that has cared for Disabled Veterans for three generations (2007). Following Hurricane Katrina we organized 9 rebuilding trips to the Gulf Coast and helped rebuild the home of a 6-year-old boy in Slidell, Louisiana battling Leukemia and a 38-year-old mother in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi battling terminal cancer."
Have I told you yet that the idea originated from a 5-year-old boy?
From the filmmakers at Individual Entertainment, I learned the following:
"On November 1st, 2003, five-year-old Evan Parness, while watching the news with his father, learned of the devastation of California’s worst firestorm in the state’s history. Wide-eyed, this young boy told his father he wanted to send toys and clothes to the children who had just lost everything. Four days later,1000 emails, and 100 volunteers combined with immeasurable love, the boy’s father and friends began a journey which has spun into an ever-growing foundation. Off to California in a U-haul truck, full of toys and relief items, with a banner that read New York Says Thank You, never did they realize what that statement would be.
The journey of supplies from New York City to the California firestorm victims brought not only aid but also a glimpse of fundamental humanity, prompting the creation of the New York Says Thank You Foundation. The trip to San Diego, meant to be a lesson in sharing from a father to a son, has begun a crusade of patriotism and selfless giving across America. New York Says Thank You is a way for New Yorkers to say 'Thanks' to America for all the support New York received the days, weeks, and months following 9/11.
Every year on the anniversary of 9/11, New York father and son take New York City firefighters and other New Yorkers, who personally experienced 9/11, to help rebuild a community affected by a disaster."
a Film by Scott Rettberg and Megan Sleeper
Click on the title above and then choose either Quicktime or Windows Media to view the short trailer. I highly recommend you watch this — it will brighten your day, it will give you renewed hope, it will show you what America is capable of when we work together. I loved the whole trailer, but especially this line from a gentlemen near the end, Larry Blanchette, who was part of the Ground Zero support:
"It's not said in a bumper sticker or a flag, it's said in actions — and only in actions are people who are truly patriotic…"
He's absolutely right, he couldn't be more right. This organization has shown me once again that I need to walk the walk and talk the talk. I have volunteered in the past and I'm currently working on a project that I will reveal in the near future that has to do with a worldwide group of bloggers. But is it enough? Can it ever be enough?
Now it's true that the majority of us don't have the ability to travel across America and participate on the scale that New York Says Thank You does, but we can all help in some way. In August I visited Quincy Cottage, a wonderful blog that I'm sure many of you have been to. Honeysuckle participates in Foodie Friday and Tablescape Thursdays, but the post that captured my attention was Service Group Summer Projects.
After leaving a comment about what I thought of her groups efforts, she returned the visit and left this for me: "Thanks for your kind comments about our service group. I hope you start one where you are. If you need any inspiration I'd be happy to help."
Bless her heart, her post shows how easy it is to give back to your own community. You will be inspired by her group, so I hope you all visit.
That's it in a nutshell, there is so much each of us can do and isn't it a fact that we all get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside when we see such stories on television? Isn't it true that when we see people helping each other, it makes us proud? Humanity, that's it. When disaster strikes, we join together, ideology is forgotten and we get on with the business that brings us together. I believe that if we focus on this, that it will make us stronger as a nation, as a people. This is what we need to remember everyday — we are a compassionate people and we all have the same basic wants — to be happy and healthy and kiss our loved ones. How many times have you heard from volunteers that they get more out of it than they give?
My challenge to all you fabulous bloggers out there is this:
Start a service group in your area, become a volunteer with a local organization, do something on your own or with friends, family or other bloggers in your area. Participate monthly, occasionally or even just once, it's up to you. If you are interested in participating in a meme sharing photos, swapping ideas, telling stories on your Community Service experience, let me know, I will be more than happy to host it. Let's show New York that they have inspired us, let's make this a tribute to anyone who has stepped up and offered themselves in service to others. This is what connects us. This is better than a bumper sticker. If your interested leave it in your comment or contact me through the email in my sidebar. Need time to think about it? No problem, just come back when your ready (I'll put an image link in my sidebar to this post). Have a great idea or story to share? Let's hear it.
Next week I'll be back to blogging about the beach, posting pictures and recipes, but I'll also be thinking about how I can honor the victims and heroes of 9-11 and our troops. I want to honor and pay tribute to them for more than just one day each year, I want to show them our country is strong and that we have not forgotten them.
One last thing before I go on the efforts of the New York Says Thank You event this year at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch:
After the work was completed in Iowa, a piece of the World Trade Center was nailed to the frame — and the new chapel was dedicated.