To everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy,

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

It was my husband’s birthday when Hurricane Sandy roared through our little town of Mantoloking, New Jersey. The day before Sandy hit we were told to evacuate. The police warned that conditions on the barrier island would be dangerous once the hurricane made landfall.

A tiny part of me wanted to stay, but I knew that wasn’t possible. So, my husband and I packed up Sammie Sea Dog, along with a few other things of importance, and traveled inland to be with our son, daughter-in-law, and Baby Norbie.

All through the night the wind and rain smashed and crashed and battered the house. Trees toppled over. Power went down. I had no idea how my family, friends and neighbors were doing, and I felt scared.

Once power was restored, and I learned everyone was safe, I was no longer frightened. But I felt helpless seeing the damage left in the hurricane’s wake and the photos of people who had lost everything near and dear to them.

I’m not sure why, but I thought of a story in Moina Belle Michael’s autobiography. I’d like to share that story with you now...

When World War I broke out in Europe, Moina escaped Germany and traveled to Rome to find safe passage home. But there were no ships in the harbor. And the city was in chaos. Stranded travelers needed places to live. Food and medicine. Babies needed milk for their bottles.

Throughout Europe, the United States Embassies and the Consulates had asked for volunteers to form committees to help the stranded travelers.

Ever since Moina was a young girl she knew one thing about herself. Whenever she helped others it made her feel better. And so she got to work.

From a desk in a hotel lobby Moina wrote list after list. Names of the travelers, how many were in their party, whether they needed loans, temporary housing, food, medicine, or passage home. And as she collected the information Moina made sure to smile at each person and offer an encouraging word. In the first two weeks, she and one other woman who was seated in a desk across from her, provided assistance to more than twelve thousand stranded Americans.

Moina made a difference by simply showing kindness to the people around her.

Maybe when things get tough it would help us cope if we followed her example.

Background photograph taken by Chris Walsh

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