The message is clear: if you are passionate about a cause, you must bring others along for the ride… Maybe they need to be inspired. And maybe they just need you to pick them up at their front door.
by Sara Weinreb
Life hasn’t felt normal in a while. Between Hurricane Sandy and the situation in Israel, I feel on edge. Worried. What is this world coming to? Is discomfort and displacement the new normal?
As someone prone to hurricanes, Sandy was unfortunately not a new situation for me. Evacuating Tulane on my freshman move-in day for Katrina allowed me to understand the situation all too well. There was one big difference here: after Katrina, I wasn’t allowed into New Orleans for months. I could only read the news and advocate from afar. But five days after Sandy I went to Target, loaded up my car with as many supplies as I could fit/afford, and headed to the Rockaways with four friends.
In the Rockaways I saw first hand what I was only able to see on TV after Katrina. A hundred people swarmed my car, begging for whatever we could provide. It was emotionally draining to have to tell people I didn’t have any more supplies. I went to bed that night, cold because my house still didn’t have power, but thinking how lucky I was to be under a warm blanket – one that I couldn’t give to everyone in the Rockaways, a majority of whom are still out of power to this day. My friends and I – all five of us – vowed to return the following weekend, which we did, bringing more supplies and more volunteers to literally help the people there dig out.
And then the rockets started. I was shocked to read – first on Facebook, then Haaretz – of the siren in Tel Aviv for the first time since 1991. My sister, a principal in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, had to take her young students to the bomb shelter. Since then, I refresh the live feed on Haaretz many, many times a day, checking to see where the rockets have landed.
Is this the new normal?
I sure hope not. But I learned something through both these experiences. When I decided I wanted to volunteer in the Rockaways, I made it easy for my friends to come. I drove and picked each one up at their doors, and dropped them off after our long, draining day. It was a no brainer, said one of my friends, since all she had to do was walk out of her front door ready to go.
And now I read about the rallies on Facebook to support Israel. Thousands of people showing up in front of the Israel embassy to show their support. The initiative, I assume, was started by a small group who invited some of their friends, and some more, and soon there were huge numbers appearing at the embassy.
The message is clear: if you are passionate about a cause, you must bring others along for the ride. Sometimes it’s as easy as just offering to pick them up at their door – literally or figuratively. I also gave people an option to donate money to me to buy more supplies to bring down and raised just about $2,000 doing so, meeting people where they were comfortable. Just because something keeps you up at night (as things often do for me!) doesn’t mean that others are also counting sheep. Maybe they need to be informed about the situation or just need an entry point to help. Maybe they need to be inspired. And maybe they just need you to pick them up at their front door.
Sara Weinreb is Associate Program Director of PresenTense Group.