By Raizy Goldberg
Week 12 since Hurricane Sandy has revealed our successes and our challenges, both in our achievements for the victims and the constant reminder that there is more to be done. A third wave of assistance now pours out from the CAF, and many are b’H on the road to recovery, with construction under way and eager plans for homecoming spurring those efforts. But for some, the frustrating web of bureaucratic reimbursement, enormous structural damage, and business loss has made rebuilding a colossal task. It is in these trying cases where a Partner in Sandy from Nivneh’s network has so kindly held a hand, soothed a worry, or firmly advocated a need. These unique partnerships have been so successful in that the shared burden became lighter and more manageable. At this point, the emotional support is just as vital as the physical or technical support that is facilitated for them.
What does it mean to a partner to be of assistance to a family in crisis? Golda Gross, one uniquely talented partner, shares her perspective:
“Being a Partner in Sandy means meeting people who are strong and capable, even at a most challenging time in their life, seeing firsthand how people can appreciate the simple things in life—a home-cooked meal, a child’s toy, a jacket, a box of diapers—having the opportunity to help someone in a difficult situation thrust upon them, being inspired by the numerous committees and committee heads and how they try their best to alleviate another’s burden.
“It means seeing and feeling a true meaning of Mi K’Amcha Yisrael, seeing people at their best, people working together, seeing an abundance of chesed. I have the privilege of being a ‘partner,’ and I must admit that it has enhanced my life and appreciation for so many things that we tend to take for granted. On every erev Shabbos since Hurricane Sandy hit, I am grateful to be able to go to my basement and storage closets to take out what I need to prepare. As I submit lists to committees for ‘my partner families’ of lost items to be replaced, I appreciate my items even more. I still have my Crockpot, my urn, my hot plate, my mixer, my washer, my dryer . . . the list goes on. If one thinks of the magnitude of losing possessions in any given room, it is huge! Just take a quick perusal of any storage closet, pantry, basement, or laundry room. Now, imagine that they are all wiped away, unusable, useless . . . and you actually have to throw them out. This gives me an added appreciation; it opens my eyes to what we have and to what we have to be grateful for.
“Whether helping a family move into their temporary home, arranging meals, contacting committees to replace lost items, arranging a ‘night out’ for young parents dealing with a frustrating (an understatement) situation . . . we can help make a difference. Project Nivneh includes committees for major appliances, minor appliances, beds, dry goods, clothing, toys, furniture, help moving back home, ‘welcome home’ packages, and countless others. The concept of a network such as this is truly impressive, let alone the actual running and implementation of these resources. One can simply respond with a resounding WOW! Words are not adequate to describe the amount of chesed one gets to see and experience when involved in Partners in Sandy.
“When you think of these families, please know that these families are real people who are capable, responsible, able to make important decisions, organized, caring, giving, full of chesed, kind, warm, generous, fun, inspiring . . . They are people who are strong, even though they themselves may not realize it. Yes, they really are! Some of these families run large organizations, are involved in community matters, have been at the head of many chesed committees themselves. They are young parents, old parents, single parents, grandparents. They are you and me.
“Hopefully, soon, Nivneh will be but a memory, and everyone will be back safely in their homes. But Nivneh will always be a tribute and a testament to what we can achieve and how much chesed can be done when we all work together.”
To register for assistance, become a partner, sponsor items for Sandy relief, or make a donation, visit Nivneh.org. From the families and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who will not rest until the devastation of Sandy is long forgotten, we thank you in advance for your support.
If you would like to share your Nivneh experience as a family member or as a Partner in Sandy, e‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org for submission in a future column. v