Every day the news services, rightfully, remind us of the tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma. In the aftermath of this horrific tornado, the victims will be looking for the most basic of human needs: shelter, food, water and clothing. Most will probably move several times before finding a semi-permanent location to settle until they rebuild (if they rebuild).
The evening before this massive storm, Celebrity Apprentice aired its finale show. All along, Trace Adkins (the ultimate winner) had been playing on behalf of his charity of choice: the American Red Cross. On that night, he raised $600,000+ for the American Red Cross. Over previous challenges, he raised many more thousands of dollars, bringing his total winnings on Celebrity Apprentice on behalf of the American Red Cross to over $1,500,000.
Why had Trace Adkins, country music superstar, chosen the American Red Cross as his charity of choice? Because of personal experience. In June of 2011, he lost his home in a fire and the American Red Cross “showed up right behind the firefighters,” in the aftermath, to help his family. Trace was not home, but on his way to Alaska to perform and the American Red Cross arrived on the scene to help his wife and three of his daughters (he has 5 children). Even with his superstar status, his gratitude to them is immense.
The day after the tornado, Trace appeared on a national morning show. It was a scheduled appearance, one of many, as the winner of Celebrity Apprentice; either Trace or Penn Jillette (the other finalist) was set to appear to talk about the show.
As expected, the conversation included the tornado and the victims. And, at one point, Trace started a sentence in answer to the interviewer’s question with, “before the fire.”
His “before the fire” comment hit me square between the eyes. In that moment, I realized that like me and Charlie, Trace measured his life in terms of time as “before the fire” and “after the fire.” His life (and his family’s) will always be defined by that measurement of time; the aftermath of time standing still: “before the fire” and “after the fire.”
As will the victims of the tornado – “before the tornado” and “after the tornado” will define their lives. The same holds true for victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the countless other natural disasters in recent times and the distant past (Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Northridge Earthquake in 1994, Japan’s Tsunami in 2011, the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906). And, of course, the man-made tragedies such as war, terrorism and senseless violent crimes.
But, the point is that the American Red Cross is always there in the aftermath lending a hand with needed basic supplies, providing emergency shelter, comforting shell-shocked victims and helping victims move forward who feel paralyzed by the enormity of their new situation.
In my earlier post this week on May 21st, In the Midnight Hours, I suggested that readers “pay if forward.” I didn’t define “pay if forward” because everybody’s resources, abilities, etc. are different. All I said was do something for someone else no matter how small. It doesn’t have to be for a stranger, but can include family and friends. The point is to do something for someone else, in whatever way you define.
And, the flip side, if you are a victim, is let others help you. Most people want to help – let them help you.
When we lost our home in the 2007 San Diego County Witch Wildfire, in the aftermath, countless family, friends and strangers reached out to help us. They gave us food, shelter, clothing, money. They helped us shift through the rubble of our destroyed home, they helped us find various contractors from demolition and debris removal to rebuild. They referred us to community resources that helped us move forward. And, they provided endless emotional support and friendship.
They paid it forward…and we are eternally grateful.
What will you do, today, to “pay it forward”?
Until Next Time,
- Any Way the Wind Blows
- Emergency Planning Checklist
- Hurricane Sandy
- In the Midnight Hours
- What’s in Your First Aid Kit?