What an amazing community to be part of. Not only am I a proud Staten Islander, but I’m also an active Staten Islander. I honestly feel that we were so strong and vibrant, after being one of, if not the worst affected by such a horrific and catastrophic event.
I have wanted to write an entry about Sandy, but was waiting for an appropriate time to do so. Many people have been asking me what my thoughts and comments were. I also didn’t want to write an entry on the site without writing about Sandy first. And so I begin…
First off, Happy 2013 and I hope each and every one of you had a blessed holiday season and sent 2012 away with a huge kick in the ass, as we all would agree, needed to go after the ending of the year was rough.
Next, I want to say that it was truly a blessing, honor, and privilege to be looked upon by many of my fellow community members to take an active part in giving back to the community and leading in on the efforts and fight to restore, and rebuild parts of Staten Island. I think the first thing to realize is that, if we all did something minimal, we did a lot. Everyone doing just what they can adds up to a major effort to pitch in and really defines what the word community is all about. I was blessed with a lot of exposure and local fame, so for me it was an easy platform to solicit and elicit assistance from people.
The real stars and heroes were the ones who rose up and knew it was the right thing to do. I am a fan of the police, EMT’s, fire fighters, and sanitation workers, but am especially a fan of the kids, parents, churches, and other local community people who just came from all over to say, “we are helping because it is the right thing to do.” Those are the people I joined forces with.
I was able to take part in so many efforts like driving around Midland Beach in Staten Island and just handing out thousands of dollars worth of supplies and materials for clean up with colleagues from local schools like Port Richmond High
School. After clean up was done, it was about funds. From there, I can remember email after email, phone call after phone call, and whatnot to just go and appear, host, sing, for the cause. My response always was yes. As draining as it was to always be on the move, I knew it still wasn’t half as draining as what these people experienced and my take on it was simple… “If my voice (God given talent) is the one thing that will help and make a difference, then I will speak/sing until I cannot anymore.” With that I loaded up the later part of the year going out on benefits, personal fundraisers, local organization events, and even organizing along with Prestige Events, an amazing all star line up of talent for a major relief concert. Over twenty thousand dollars in one night being raised for the community proves that Staten Island has a heart.
I also teamed up with Big Ang and her sister Janine and their family and the Big Ang’s Angels organization with Lil Jen and
Linda to do a multitude of good will. It was humbling to watch people who have recently found fame, success, and monetary blessing, but they have shared it immensely with their fellow man in need. This to me is clearly why we are put on this earth; to step up and lend a hand when times of tribulation come knocking at our doors. I was and still am so proud to call these people my friends.
As for the St. George Theatre (my home), this years Christmas Show (2012) was a major outlet to do what the spirit of Christmas is all about, spreading peace and good will toward mankind. We gave a private performance to victims of the storm and presented children of all ages with gifts and necessities that they’d need in order to have some kind of holiday. From food drives to toy drives, I worked on adrenaline all through the months of November and December. Smiles on children’s faces and hearing people say thank you was the only payment I needed. When you do work from the heart, the ultimate reward is to know, you feel like you did something right.
One of the final efforts I took part in was the most humbling experience of all, and
that was to go into Rockaway Beach (Neponsit Queens) with Joe Causi, WCBSFM, Lucas Prata, Angelo Venuto, Dani Dante and the ICONIC Boyz, and perform for actual people whose homes were in complete disarray. The humbling part was that this was on December 23rd 2012, hours before Christmas Eve fell upon the world. We filled the streets with people, good energy, and most importantly a happy holiday.
Although I wasn’t directly affected by this tragic event, my hometown was and I couldn’t sit back and watch people raise efforts without continuing the chain. I witnessed gas droughts, power outages, floods, destroyed homes, deaths, and hundreds of other cases that are so painful to recount. What came out of it was a greater; more unified and blessed Staten Island community. Together as a borough we stood tall and restored as best we could. As efforts continue we look to 2013 with peace, love, and hope.
Instead of focusing on my entire year, as I usually do with my first entry on my website each year, I decided to write about this. 2012 has blessed me with continued success in all that I do, but has blessed me more with safety, shelter, a home, family, friends, and loved ones who were safe. All the things we take for granted on a daily basis suddenly had such an important meaning in my life. I am sure many of you reading this feel the exact same way as I do. I am thankful for all I have witnessed and pitched in doing, because my community has made me an even better person.
With that I close by saying, lets all look to help others often not because we expect things in return, but because it is simply the right thing to do. From a major tragedy to a minor cause with someone raising funds, there is no job too big or too small to lend a helping hand. As we embark on this New Year, lets go through it together with the same unity and spirit that our community shared for the post Sandy efforts. Thank you to everyone who reached out for my services, or who gave me the opportunity to better myself. It makes me feel great to know you put so much into needing me to be part of your events, but it makes me feel even better to know I had the means to do the right thing.
(all photos courtesy of Vincent Medugno on Instagram and Twitter)