In an effort to help those who weren’t as fortunate as we were in 2012, Harvest Wealth Management Partners Josh Benet and Bob Rice decided that instead of sending client gifts after the holidays, they would redirect that money ($5,000) to a charity benefiting those affected by Super Storm Sandy. Realizing that there are still many people without shelter or power as a result of the storm, they decided to concentrate their efforts toward those who would personally benefit from our physical and financial outreach.
Josh and Bob drove down to New York, specifically the Rockaways, on January 16, 2012, to clean out houses and see with their own eyes how people were affected. For those of you who do not know the Rockaways, it is a peninsula southeast of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Because it is such a small body of land, water came up on both sides and flooded the entire island and most of the homes.
Upon arriving on a rainy cold morning, Bob & Josh were asked to suit up in full body protective suits, protective eye wear and air ventilation masks. They were then shuttled, along with ten other volunteers, to a one story single family home. From the outside, the modest home looked unaffected, but during the storm, the water had come all the way to the windows on the first floor leaving the house and its contents ruined. Their team’s job for the day was to “muck out” the house or make it so that all of the moldy and rotten wood was removed. This meant tearing down all the walls and removing all the floors in the house. Around lunch time the owner came by to thank them and tell her story. She was a widow in her 60s that didn’t have flood insurance or the resources to rebuild her home. She did have car insurance, so she got a new car when her's was destroyed. For the past three months she had been living out of her new car and staying with friends.
After lunch, Josh and Bob joined their team leader to help another homeowner in need. Upon entering the home from the back door we noticed a ladder where the stairs to the basement should have been. Their task for the afternoon was to shovel the debris in the basement – parts of the collapsed moldy ceiling, leaked oil and damaged baseball cards – into 50 garbage bags, and carry them up the ladder and out to the street. This house wasn’t devastated like the first home, but the owner was still living without power three months after the storm.
Today, many people are still without homes and power, and are struggling. If you feel as fortunate as Bob and Josh do in life, and are interested in helping any of these people who have been blindsided in theirs, there is an amazing organization called New York Cares, which organizes daily events such as the one we attended. If you would rather donate to help those in need, the organization that we selected is called “The St Bernard Project.” This organization was instrumental in rebuilding New Orleans and is now focusing its efforts on Sandy victims.
Bob and Josh wanted to share this story in part because it makes them appreciate what they have, but also because it made it extremely clear how important the work they do is in protecting their clients' financial and quality of life. Their hope is that they are impacting their clients' lives so that they will never have the feeling of hopelessness that many of the victims of Hurricane Sandy are still experiencing.
To the right are a couple of pictures of our impactful experience.