NJ Early Response Team - Day 3-Sea Bright

Diane Miller



On our second full day in Sea Bright, we returned to finish work on Herbert and Desiree’s house and the house across the street that belonged to Natalie.  Each time we touch base with the people whose homes we’re working on, we learn more about them. 

Herbert and Desiree are living in the house she grew up in.  Her grandmother lived next door (the plot and new house now owned by a developer), and another relative lives a block over.  This explains why people are so attached to their homes.  It’s not just the lovely community or living in this setting, it’s the emotional ties to where you grew up. 

What we did at Natalie’s home was not a big job, but it was nice to get to know her and help out.  On her door, with a broken panel and a hole you could see through, hung a wreath.  Her story was a poignant reminder of symbols of hope and care. 

Natalie told us that her husband usually decorates like the Griswalds.  (The family in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation who decorated to the extreme for Christmas.) Two weeks ago Natalie came back to her house and found that someone had hung a wreath on the door.  No note or explanation; just a wreath that meant someone cared. Maybe it was a friend; maybe a stranger who felt led to do this random act of kindness.

In Natalie’s house we found a stuffed toy bear alongside paper towels with a message – Home Sweet Home – a  poignant reminder that we were helping someone recover their home.

Today a reporter from the Star-Ledger stopped by our site and interviewed me. It was great to tell her about the volunteers on our team – what we’ve been doing, how we’ve been trying to help – and that we’re part of a bigger organization (UMCOR) that will keep sending volunteers -- not just until the Early Response phase is completed, but until the recovery and rebuilding is finished. That will take years. Click her to read the story.

 My fingers are typing slower and slower.  I wish the bear sitting on my blow-up mattress really would do a little more blog writing so I could get to bed a little earlier.  Until tomorrow…


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