|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
Over 300 people showed up at the LBIF to
view a documentary on Superstorm Sandy.
Many of the night’s participants had already watched the heart-wrenching video online, via a link on the Jetty + Waves for Water Facebook page, which has been keeping residents abreast of the group’s Sandy relief initiatives. Yet they really wanted to come out to show their appreciation for the relief efforts spearheaded by the shore’s surfing groups.
“I’m here because I want to support any activity that helps the victims of Sandy recover. When surfing’s involved, you know it’s important," said Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora. “It gives us a better attachment to the ocean and nature because you’re riding in concert with nature, not against it,” added the long-time surf enthusiast, who grew up in Manahawkin and Surf City.
The event raised more than $12,000. The $20 tickets sold out weeks in advance, and there was an extra $10 donation for beer and wine as well as a raffle. A silent auction included such items as artwork donated by local artists, including Ann Coen, Matt Burton and Chris Pfiel, as well as a stand-up paddleboard valued at $850 donated by Paddle for a Purpose via South End Surf ’N Paddle. A package given by Royce Weber included a 5-foot 10-inch Roberts surfboard along with one-hour surf and sailing lessons.The funds benefited Waves for Water’s Unite and Rebuild relief project, which, in conjunction with local apparel company Jetty, has helped repair many of the Superstorm Sandy-devastated towns along the coast, including Long Beach Island and the surrounding communities.
“It’s always great to have these moments,” said Jon Rose, founder of the California-based nonprofit organization Waves for Water. “Events like these are nice reminders and validations of the work that’s happening. They’re morale boosters. It’s important to keep the momentum and spark going.
|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
With the help of some big-ticket auction items,
The 'East Coast Rising' event raised over $12,000
for W4W's Sandy reilef initiative.
“I’ve worked everywhere: Japan, Pakistan, Haiti. It doesn’t matter where a natural disaster happens. It’s a little easier in a first-world country because everyone can pool together leftover resources, but there are still the same human needs. Disasters don’t discriminate,” he added.
Depending on the need, Rose said the organization would continue to work in the area for at least another year. When asked about his commitment to his organization’s mission, he said, “I don’t know how to not do this. It’s hard to explain; it feels like a calling.”
Later in the night, Rose wrote out four checks worth $5,000 each to help local individuals in need. Jetty co-owner Jeremy DeFilippis also awarded a $5,000 check to Vilardi Construction LLC, whose owner, Dan Vilardi, is still displaced, yet has “acted as a warrior” during the recovery process. Vilardi has put a measureless number of hours into helping friends and neighbors rebuild their homes and businesses, including Foster’s Farm Market in Beach Haven. So far, the local apparel company has donated more than $200,000 to activities involved with the relief initiative, which it has raised through the sale of its Hurricane Sandy Relief T-shirts and pullovers.
Although the event at the LBIF served as a much-needed break in the disruption of everyday life that Sandy has imposed on the area, it also acted as another chance to involve the public in the recovery process. Postcards of local surfers riding rolling waves and of colorful landscapes of the rising and setting sun along the Island’s beaches, telling the story of the region’s recovery following the storm, were handed out. A mailbox was provided so people could send them to friends and family members to help spread the word about Long Beach Island’s upcoming summer season.
“The ultimate story is that LBI will be open for business this summer,” said local surfer and freelance writer Jon Coen. “We realize that people who are in New York and Pennsylvania and North Jersey keep seeing the images of the Jet Star (roller coaster) falling into the ocean off Casino Pier, and Breezy Point burned to the ground, and they think that these coastal areas are ruined, and they might start planning their trips to upstate New York or Cape Hatteras, or something like that. But LBI is not Seaside, and while Jetty and Waves for Water is working alongside other surfers in Seaside and they’re not going to be back to normal this summer, we will be almost normal. So we’re trying to tell people, ‘Hey, we are open, come down, plan your trip,’ because we need people to come down and spend their money next summer.”
|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
Jazz-fusion tunes played by local band Nicotine
and brown helped participants get into the LBI-
The evening was an obvious symbol of the area’s and its residents’ readiness for the coming season. The aroma of seared mahi mahi, crabby mac-n-cheese and lime chipotle slaw, among other delicious delicacies catered by Mud City Crab House of Manahawkin, left the partygoers feeling relaxed and excited for the upcoming summertime activities and certain of continuing recovery efforts with the local surfers.
“The community’s surfers have come to the forefront and really taken an activist’s role during the recovery process,” said Ray Fisk, a local resident and owner of Down The Shore Publishing. “These things are really cool to see.”
— Kelley Anne Essinger
This article was published in The SandPaper.