Tag Archives: Hurricane Sandy

Our Social Responsibility

by Gail Mooney
April 19 2013

In some ways we have never been more connected than we are right now – at this juncture in the timeline of mankind.  In other ways we have never been more disconnected and detached.  When I embarked on a 99 journey around the world almost 3 years ago to date, I suppose in some ways I was looking to get more connected with what was happening globally, in a real sense.  These days, it’s too easy to fall into a cyber world, where most of our connections are intangible. Call me old fashioned, but I feel the need to connect with people in real terms. When I returned from my journey, I had not only connected with people from all around the world, I had connected with myself and what part I was meant to play in the timeline of life.

As the years have ticked away, I have tried to remain true to myself, especially in how I apply that to my craft and my career.  This past weekend I had an assignment for Kiwanis Magazine.  The assignment was to photograph volunteers from the local Kiwanis and Ki Clubs, repairing a home at the NJ shore that had been damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  I had not been down to the shore since Sandy, but I knew this area had been the hardest hit in the state.  While much of the debris has been taken away, there’s an empty and desolate presence especially in the poorer towns that had no money to rebuild.

The task on hand for the volunteers that day, and there had to be about 30 people who showed up, was to install new sheet rock and insulation, put in a new bathroom and do general clean up of the property.  It was a modest home in a very modest neighborhood of houses that had been salvaged amongst the ones abandoned.  The first thing that hit me was in fact – this is someone’s home.  As much as I was there to photograph the volunteers, my eye was drawn to the personal effects of the owners, pushed up into the corners of damaged rooms along with their Easter decorations in rooms they were living in.  Life must go on.

The day was filled with positive energy. Kids were painting, raking, cleaning storm drains while older tradesmen were working with other volunteers and teaching them their craft. And at the end of the day, everyone walked away tired, but feeling really good about the contribution they had made.  I’m sure some of these kids had to do some kind of community service as part of their school mandates, but could I tell that every one of them got a lot more out of the experience than just school credits. I know I got a lot more out of it than a paycheck and some photographs in a magazine.

After the chores had been done and I had gotten the photographs that I needed, I took a drive with my husband along the ocean road.  It was a new landscape, changed by a hurricane that hit hard.  But I felt hopeful and humbled once again about the power that’s in all of us to make a difference.

What Heroes are Made Of

by Gail Mooney
November 1 2012

When Erin and I set out to make a film about ordinary individuals who were doing extraordinary things to make our world a better place, we didn’t know we would be meeting the real heroes of our world.

Maggie Doyne and Bishal, Kopila Valley Childrens Home, Nepal

Each one of the people in our film is doing something that is not only courageous, but some would say, they are doing the impossible.

I suppose we could have chosen more high profile people or celebrities, but we opted to shine a light on the folks most people haven’t even heard of.  That was a deliberate decision because we wanted to show what the individual is capable of.

As I watch the footage of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, I’m reminded of the power of the individual.  I heard story after story about regular people who had put aside their own comfort and safety to go to the aid of others who were less fortunate.  These stories will fade in our memories as time goes by, but my hope is that people will take notice and think about their own actions.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and glitz of the world we live in, paying homage to the notables, and the large entities that have the power and money to make the biggest splash in the news.  And we talk ourselves out of the little actions that we could take, telling ourselves that we could never measure up.  How sad. Maybe that’s the downside of the culture we live in.

I can only hope that more people will take notice of the ordinary people and the efforts they make – not for money – not for recognition – but simply because it’s the right thing to do.

We created this film to move people to action.  The actions don’t have to be huge.  They could be helping a child with their homework, walking a neighbor’s dog who isn’t able to do that for herself or just listening to someone who needs a person to talk to.  We don’t have to be a celebrity, have a big name or have lots of money.  We just have to realize that sometimes it’s the little things we do that count and all those little things add up to make our world a better place.

Imagine if everyone did one small thing to make a difference.