The Anatomy of a Pop-Up Relief Effort – Bigger Stories / Brave Now

nerdIt starts with a passion. In this case, Jacqueline Carly was a native New Yorker who felt compelled to move to action and help people with a gesture of some relief supplies for Hurricane Sandy.

She connects with her loudmouth boyfriend (me). I have the “loud bullhorn” of a platform. I ask for a place to stage a supplies drive collection.

It requires a community-minded place with their ears open: Microsoft New England Research and Development center (Microsoft NERD) comes to the rescue. Immediately. Late on a Saturday night. And in force. I have no idea what Sara Spaulding feeds those people over there at Microsoft in Cambridge, but they are fast, ready, nimble, helpful, and they went the extra distance.

jenloismarshallIt requires the community: you (and others). Without the actual supplies, the drive doesn’t matter. We had help from far too many people to name (and I will forget some of you), but Sara and Audrey and Jen and Lois and Marshall and Andrea and Walter and Keith and Nivas and Scott and Chris and Jeremy and John and Kevin and Anthony and Kerry/Dan and the many people who found a way to drop off supplies at the drop of a hat. The amount of help and feet-on-the-ground we had were amazing.

nivasIt requires research. Jacq finds all kinds of small DIY networks of people all over NY and NJ who are sourcing materials and supplies. People like Jennifer Iannolo were quite actively filling their Facebook profiles with all kinds of pointers to local communities of need. Jacq sends hers to the Unitarian Church of Staten Island and into the hands of the wonderful Reverend Susan. I forget where Jennifer took hers. And more are to come.

Then, it’s a matter of communication. I ask for a vehicle in case we get more than we can carry in Jacq’s car. We get another driver, Jen, and then Mike Bavuso from Big Foot Moving & Storage volunteers two guys and a truck and labor to take the rest of the supplies down to NJ. This happened via Eileen at Yard And a Half landscaping, who follows me on Twitter. Mike has no idea what he’s getting himself into, but he goes for it. We get an amazing pro moving company (who you should hire for your next move in the Boston area), who help us greatly.

corybookerWe ask where to ship supplies to New Jersey, and Deb Ng finds the answer by the mayor of Newark himself, Cory Booker. So that’s how that gets done. I was talking with my small town’s mayor about what Mayor Booker did, and he was excited for the possibilities, because this kind of accessibility and this kind of velocity is what will power the next wave of active government.

And what’s it like to deliver these goods? Here are some words from Jen, our second driver:

“Delivered goods to New Hope Church in Newark earlier today. Never been hugged or blessed so much. Watched a woman with an infant get blankets I brought. Then went and reloaded with stuff friends collected and hit the shore area. Creepy! Large stretches of no lights, trees down, and boats tossed right up on land by the roads. Was able to do so all because you got an idea and ran with it. Got to personally bring generator gas and a birthday cake to a family in real need. It was a long, tiring, awesome day.”

That’s what YOU did. Jen helped, but you did it, too.

The Recipe

Hurricane Sandy ReliefWithout the passion, nothing starts. Without the platform, no one responds. Without the big-eared community anchor, we have no place to work. Without you, we have nothing to fulfill our passionate hope. Without the research and on-the-ground networks, we have no way to deliver. Without the “last mile” teams, we have no success.

Use this recipe if ever you’re compelled to movement. Find the actors for this and you will succeed.

We are indebted to you, because without you, there was no adventure, no story, no learning, and most importantly, no relief to those still fighting to get back to this century. And their struggle continues. If you want to help, there are many ways. The easiest? Text REDCROSS to 90999 and you’ll be donating $10 to ongoing relief efforts. And thanks.

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