I had a client once whose partner died of a fentanyl overdose at their kitchen table. These stories aren’t uncommon in midst of an the opiate epidemic, but as a Case Manager it can still be quite jarring to see pictures of that loved one, and to imagine the meals shared over that kitchen table.
“Well, I guess there was a silver lining,” she confessed a couple months after his passing. “I found out who my true friends are.”
Her words might resonate with you if you’ve experienced a loss of your own. When grief comes on strong, not everyone is willing to offer hot food, clean clothes, or even a shoulder to cry on. Maybe lots of friends will step up on the day of the funeral, but who is still there in the days and weeks beyond?
And whether a disaster hits an individual or a city, the same rules apply. After Hurricane Irma hit Jacksonville, who was there with hot food, clean clothes, and shoulders to cry on, not only on the day of the storm but in the days and weeks beyond?
Though Hurricane Irma had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached us on September 10-11, it left Jacksonville with 5 dead, 0 gallons of gas or water for sale, 262,771 people without power, and a record-breaking 5.57 feet of surge flooding. Our 2017-2018 Corps had only started their service term a few days prior, but I’m extremely proud of the way they offered shelter and support not only to each other but to the community, and continue to do so at their host sites today.
Recently I asked our twenty-seven Members who were actively serving during Irma if there was anyone in particular who deserved a shout out. On behalf of all of us here are twenty-seven people, places, and things that we want to recognize for going above and beyond during a time of crisis.
Thank you to...
1. NHC program staff for providing guidance to our brand new members!
2. Maja’s cat for warning that something was going down (see picture)
3. health professionals at our host sites for calmly working before, during, and after the hurricane
4. The Red Cross and Southside Baptist staff for sheltering evacuees
5. I-95N drivers who were cool about the whole merging thing
6. the man at Autozone for helping Anna find the right product to seal her leaking tire while we were all hurrying to evacuate
7. a Ford F150 for safely evacuating James and his family
8. Florida National Guard for taking action
10. ...aunts and uncles...
15. ...and our amazing AmeriFam for generously opening their homes to us and/or providing for us during the evacuation
16. Tallahassee, Gainesville, Atlanta, Suwanee, Raleigh, Asheville, Sweetwater, Augusta, and Thomasville for accepting our evacuated Members
17. local news media for keeping us informed...you go Paisley Jo!
18. local trees for growing strong enough to not fall on our houses
19. clients and patients for weathering the storm and being there for their families
20. Ian Fitzpatrick for serving more hours at the Red Cross shelter than anyone in the Corps (including all nighters!), and for doing it with a smile
21. neighbors with extension cords for setting up “free power stations” on their front porches
22. Publix and other businesses that were quick to open the Tuesday after the storm for providing not only food but a place to stand in and gossip about the condition of your house with total strangers
23. the mom who had her hands full with her sick infant but scoured her house for anything and everything to donate to River Region’s diaper drive
24. University of North Florida’s Center for Community-Based Learning for collecting and sorting donations in partnership with New Town Success Zone
25. generous neighbors who understand the AmeriCorps stipend doesn’t cover things like rakes and let us borrow all kinds of tools to clean up
26. JEA for putting in serious overtime to fix power outages throughout Northeast Florida
27. 130 City of Jacksonville trucks working to remove storm debris
Thank you from the bottom of our twenty-seven hearts!
This blog post was written by NHC FL member, Alicia Nelson.
Alicia served in the 16-17 program year as a Patient Navigator at RRHS.