“When Jersey Shore United was first getting underway, it was right after Sandy hit. There was so much need from so many people, but I had no volunteers, no resources, and no money at that time. So I just started praying. I asked God to show me a way to be able to help these people who had been devastated from this storm. And that’s when the Robin Hood Foundation granted us five hundred thousand dollars to get JSU rolling. That was in January of 2013, less than two months after Sandy struck the Jersey Shore.
“My wife and I lived through Sandy ourselves. We had to leave our home in the pitch black night in waist-high water while 80 mph winds were howling around us. We lost everything we owned. We had four feet of water in our home, we lost both of our cars, and I lost my job because I worked from home. We had to live in a camper for two years while we got a home established for ourselves, all while running Jersey Shore United. We know intimately what other people were going through in the Jersey Shore from Sandy.
“In total, we have helped over 800 families get back in their homes. A lot them were huge projects that were $25,000 grants, though some were smaller. It didn’t matter, we helped them all if we could. We helped families with appliance and furniture packages. When people are moving back in their once flooded-homes for the first time, they don’t have anything.
“Some of the people we are helping right now are people like a family in Cherry Quay. They have their house raised, but it hasn’t been lowered into place yet. The wife got sick while they were waiting to get into her home, and she died of cancer. She was in her 40’s, and they just got custody of their 7-year-old granddaughter. The husband is a disabled veteran trying to get his life in order, after everything he has gone through. We are doing everything we can to help him get back into their home.
“We have another homeowner family in Wayville. The town has not allowed them in their house for over two years at this point. The house is completed perfectly, and passed all the inspections, but the house held water, so we got our contractors and we did an $18,000 dollar job in the house down to $4,000 dollars, and they finally got their Certificate of Occupancy last Tuesday. Then there is another man, Kieth, who had Stage IV cancer when we met him, and his goal was to just get his house finished before he passed away, so he could leave it to his wife. So we got really involved with helping his house, and helped with electrical work, and put a new roof on his house. And through this whole process of helping him get back in his home, we were praying for him, and now his cancer is now in remission.
“Our goal with Day of Hope on Saturday is to let people know we are here to help still. After there is nowhere else to turn to, they can come to us, and we are here for them. But it takes finances to do this. Without funding we cannot get the materials, or do the construction it takes sometimes. We cannot help people in need if people are not able to help us financially. That’s what Jersey Shore United’s Annual Day of “Hope” is all about. We want to keep helping people, but we need some help dping that”
~ This is the last feature of a 5-part series Portraits of the Jersey Shore has done on Jersey Shore United this week. There are still hundreds of families without homes at the shore. To find out how you can help, or to find more information about the exciting Day of Hope at the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove this Saturday (where I also happen to be speaking), please click here: http://
— with Barry Moll.