I’ve been writing about a special, ground-breaking trip I was fortunate to be a part of in early June called “Social Media For Social Good Retreat” in which 40 moms from all over the country joined forces for four days in New Jersey to learn about how the state is coping after Super Storm Sandy beat the shore down just a bit more than half a year ago. The main message I learned on the trip is quite simple.
Hurricane Sandy may have beat down the shoreline of New Jersey in places but it did not and can not beat down the spirit of the people of New Jersey.
However, the people of New Jersey still need our help in recovering. Some people are still without homes and businesses. Some are just now moving back into their homes after major rehabilitation, including a good friend whose family’s beach home was underwater in Belmar, New Jersey, one of the hardest hit areas of the storm and one of the places our group visited to get a first-hand view.
The fact that I, we, thoroughly enjoyed our one true beach day out of our four-day event when Tropical Storm Andrea was making an appearance on Belmar beach is testimony to the hospitality of the people of Belmar. A popular eatery and bar for locals called D’Jais hosted our group of moms (and some of their families) for a wonderful buffet lunch and the Mayor of Belmar, Matt Doherty (@belmarmayormatt on Twitter) came to give us a proper welcome. He also shared some important facts about how the city of Belmar is repairing post Super Storm Sandy. Mayor Matt, as we were encouraged to call him, assured us his team is making sure Belmar Beach will have the cleanest, nicest bath houses on any beach – partly because they reached out to moms just like us to find out what is important to them when visiting the beach for the day or week. We saw first-hand how clean the new facilities are and he guarantees they will remain as clean.
Belmar has repaired the beautiful boardwalk which lay in pieces, some swept out to sea, after the storm. They have added wonderful playgrounds on the beach to give families an extra bonus of fun while visiting. Honestly, the only thing missing from Belmar from some of the nicest beaches I’ve visited are palm trees. That is the biggest difference for me between upper East coast beaches to lower East and West coast beaches I’ve visited.
Probably the most profound part of our adventure during #JerseyLove is that we were able to donate $5,000 to the New Jersey relief efforts, thanks in part for the registration we paid to be a part of this mission and also the generous donation of one of the major sponsors D6 Sports. I must tell you, that felt good. Again, for me, partly because before this trip I had a few good friends directly affected by this storm. Now after this trip, I am happy to say I have many more New Jersey Digital Mom friends to hold close to my heart.
How can you help the people of New Jersey? Simple, really. They need our continued tourism support. The Garden State has always relied heavily on the tourism dollars. When a storm like Sandy happens, people quickly presume the area is not ready to have a nice vacation. That is simply untrue, mostly because of the hard work and efforts of many. People have worked round the clock in some cases, rebuilding, fundraising and then repeating that effort from the moment the last abrupt winds fizzled.
I will continue to share portions of this trip with you throughout the summer. There are simply too many wonderful memories and facts I learned to keep it to one post. Please, though, I hope you will consider New Jersey when you plan your next trip to a beach. The good people of Caesars Entertainment showed us such a good time along the boardwalk of Atlantic City as one of our gracious sponsors. With the historic Steel Pier Amusement Park, the boardwalk shops, big-name shows, casinos and family friendly and fine dining, there is really very little you can’t find for a weekend or week on the shore. I was truly impressed and honestly, surprised. With a family in tow, I feel Atlantic City is much friendlier than some of the other casino cities I’ve visited.
Our reason WHY can be best summed up by this video. Please take ten minutes to watch it. The people of New Jersey deserve it. We must not forget, people lost their lives and much of their possessions.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a wrap-up vlog by a friend, Amiyrah Martin with a little help at the end by me. Those who vlog together stick together. Grins.
In addition to planning vacations to the New Jersey Shore, you can also still help families displaced by making donations to the Belmar Relief Fund.
Do you have any memories of trips to the New Jersey Shore to share?
*This is a sponsored post, not that I was paid directly, but because of a sponsorship from Caesars Entertainment and D6 Sports, my lodging in Atlantic City and most meals were provided. As always, my opinions are expressly my own.