Saturday, September 12, 2009

New York Says Thank You

Yesterday I posted a tribute to September 11th, 2001 and visited the blogs of many others who did the same. I connected with other Americans and people around the world who shared their memories of that horrific day and I felt better for it. I wrote, as did many others, that I wished the connection we all felt that day would remind us to treat other with kindness and respect everyday. This was all fine and well, but couldn't we go a step further?

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.

14 Thoughtful Comments:

Lillian Robinson said...

That's awesome! I never heard about it before. It's like one of my favorite movies... 'Pay It Forward'

Eileen said...

I am going to visit that site, and I am going to speak with family and friends about 'giving back'.
As a New Yorker I am so grateful to the generous outpouring of love that was extended to us.

Thanks so much for sharing this.
All the best,

Pomona said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and your lovely comment - I love the way blogging can connect people all over the world through shared interests. And re the above, a very good friend once said to me 'If you go through life giving out blessings, then blessings will come to you', which is my philosophy. Give out blessings where you can, without worrying about return, and funnily enough, I have found that blessings do come back from the most unexpected sources and in the most unexpected ways!

Pomona x

jeanne said...

Hello Rhonda, your post about NY says thank you is so heartwarming. I have always believed, give with all your strength and all your heart and even though you do no expect it, the blessings come back twofold. A lovely post about people who care, is what life is all about.


Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Rhonda
Fabulous post. It helps us to remember good can come from evil and people have not been beaten down into the poor me mentallity. I can assure you Australians feel your grief at this time each year and it is wonderful to also share your joy for the best of human nature. x Julie

Magdalena said...

Your post is one of the most important that I have read to date. Although I have heard of this wonderful organization in NYC I didn't know it was started by a 5 year old little boy, how amazing!! I always want to do more, I need to stop wanting and start doing you said walk the walk!! I am involved in local organizations from donating books to local after school programs (my sons collect books in place of birthday gifts and donate them to children who don't have them readily available to them) I volunteer at local historic groups trying to help save and preserve the past and do it in an earth friendly way. But the thing I am most proud about is a book I have written that is being published now, it is a children's book that I wrote 15 years ago after I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, it was only months after my first child was born. I wrote a fun upbeat book to help get my mind off my illness and then just recently over 15 years after I wrote it, sent it out and it was accepted by a publishing company. When it is all finalized I will be donating portions of all proceeds to various families in crisis. I also designed a birthstone ring and donate 20% of all proceeds to the charity of the purchasers choice..yet it still doesn't seem like enough. My utltimate dream is to adopt a child. You have inspired me to keep trying to do more and to also believe that there are so many good and loving people in this world, especially you Rhonda!!
Have a wonderful weekend
God Bless

wenderful said...

Hi, What a beautiful and enlightening post. Isn't it amazing what a thought can lead to? I did not know about NY Says Thank You. thanks for helping me learn more and for your kind words and link to my post. Everyone has their own way of giving back I am sure, and altho it may be small, every particle of sand makes up a beach. You are inspired to motivate others to use their own gifts to contribute to our wonderful world. Thank you.

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

I think I heard about this boy Evan..., but didn't know that it developed into such a large movement. A kid -how great is that!! I think so too that we all contribute in our very own way..., and I love that image "wenderful" uses..., "every particle of sand makes up a beach."

Cass @ That Old House said...

Brava! And thank you -- wonderful post, and so was yesterday's.


Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

Rhonda, As I read this most inspired post I felt as if a proposed movie script was being presented to me, one that speaks to the deeper meaning of 'humanity.' When touched, as were so many, by the reaching out, the empathy, the caring, following 9/11 these words so expressed, this vision held...

For This World Is Now Amend

Voices speak of the glory
Each its own splendid story
As one purpose we define
Man’s vision beyond confine
Many a word do we heed
Man in so very much need
A call now ever to give
For how shall man choose to live
Shall war, destruction and strife
Mark days of unfolding life
Yet another destiny
Man to know it is to be
Free from the oppressor’s way
TRUTH, LOVE and PEACE this day
Hand and heart shall you extend
For this world is now amend.

And to you dear Rhonda, Praise and Gratitude - yes, the giving is the receiving...

Drawn to The Sea said...

I also visited 9/11 blog posts, but found it hard to comment. My words felt so inadequate. And I saw Charlie's report. What a wonderful way to honor those who were lost, & those who helped.


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Thanks so much for this wonderful post to highlight the work of "New York Says Thank You" I knew about this wonderful organization and the work that they've done. My brother is a retired FDNY and has been a volunteer -- they are really are a humble group of men who never look for publicity or accolades, they really work from their heart.

Voluntering has been a wonderful response to the tragedy of 9-11. This year the names of those lost in NYC on 9-11 were read by both family members of those lost and members of NYC volunteer organizations that have been developed in response to the event. So many wonderful acts of kindness and giving came from that terrible day.

I have been a voluteer in many different organizations since I was 14! I've always felt I received much more than I gave. There is so much need in the world and working with disabled children was always been a cause I gave much time to over the years.

Presently, as a history buff, I have been a part of a group for seven years that has been identifying and locating grave sites of Civil War soldiers who were buried in the largest cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, many of them without headstones! We have identified over 3,000 so far, and have ordered headstones from the Federal government.

Every community has volunteer opportunities -- thanks for reminding us all to give back!

Joyce said...

Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

Sierra said...

What a wonderful organization and I love that the idea came for a 5 year old!! Very touching, I definitely want to get more involved in my community, I love to volunteer and help out. By the way, I loved your blessed Friday list, thanks so much for participating and I hope you have a great week!

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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