Long before the days of CityGirlGoneMom.com, my life wasn’t all that much different. With at least one kid and a camera attached to the hip, I documented our every day. I sought out Hollywood opportunities (on the East coast), I had a passion for home design, fashion, food and family. And most importantly, I believed in harnessing the power of my tribe to create positive change and make a difference in the lives of others.
In the fall of 2012, Bobby and I were living in Wilmington, North Carolina with our three little ones when one of the deadliest and most destructive hurricanes to make its way up the Atlantic coast hit very close to home. My childhood home, that is. My mom, aunts, uncles, and cousins living in New York City, Point Pleasant and Brielle, NJ had never experienced anything quite like it. The wrath of Hurricane Sandy brought wind, rain, flood, coastal surge, and even blizzards to residents of over 24 states. I had never felt so helpless – guilty even – for not being able to physically be there and help.
What I learned from this experience was twofold. First, the power of community + social media was greater than I ever imagined. And second, even if I were able to get back and help, the people of the Northeast didn’t need more people there to survey the damage. What they needed was quick access to funds and supplies that would help residents start to pick up the pieces, and help local businesses reopen sooner. As devastated as I was, I was even more motivated to help.
Not exactly sure where to begin, and certainly with no plan in place, I just started reaching out to friends. I always knew the people of Wilmington, NC were special, but I was completely blown away by their kindness, generosity, and willingness to help at the drop of a hat. Friends, colleagues, students, patients, even complete strangers. This amazing community came together and did something really special that I’ll always remember. What started out as a plea to friends and family, quickly evolved into a legit hurricane relief center based out of Wilmington. We collected cleaning supplies, baby items, hygiene products, batteries, etc., and with the help of some very special friends and their commercial fleet vehicles, distributed the goods over 500 miles away to New Jersey.
When it comes to natural disasters, we so often want to help out, but are unsure how we can make the greatest impact. Many people (like me) would prefer to contribute directly to a known source to provide help to locals fast. With great ties to the Wilmington and New Bern, NC communities, I am now asking my larger tribe – San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey and beyond – to join me as I return the favor to some of the most kind and generous people out there, the wonderful people of North Carolina, as they start anew.
I have personally vetted the following local organizations, whose contributions are already helping local residents in need. And this list is coming directly from the folks in NC. Comment below if you have any other suggestions:
- The Lifepoint Helpline: The Lifepoint Helpline was established during the hurricane so that needs were met. They now offer the chance to donate financially directly to Hurricane Florence relief efforts.
- Harrelson Center: Find ways to volunteer or make a financial donation.
- The Women of One Tree Hill: Join the women of One Tree Hill and Random Acts to help the people of North Carolina affected by Hurricane Florence.
- Coastal Animal Rescue: The animals also need our help. This page was set up by the founder of Canines & Couture, Bridgett Rowley whose mission is to help all the animals in need. All of the funds go to Coastal Animal Rescue!
- Go Fund Me: This is to help a family who lost everything and are living in a hotel.
- Nourish NC: These guys are helping folks as we speak!
- Diaper Bank Of NC: Distributed over 1 million diapers to 17 counties in NC affected by Hurricane Florence. But they still need more donations.
- Mother Hubbard’s Cubbard: Serves those who are hungry in the Wilmington area through distribution of emergency food.
- Cape Fear Center For Inquiry: Make a financial donation.
- Jammin 99.9: Learn how to volunteer or drop off donations.
- Brunswick County Schools Employee Disaster Relief: Numerous families in the Brunswick County Schools District suffered major loss from Hurricane Florence. Some employees lost homes, vehicles, and all of their personal belongings during the storm, and due to the flooding that followed. Many have limited resources to start over.