Story Written by Alison Bono
On a sunny Saturday a young mother walks into the Sayreville Senior Center. She asks if the Red Cross has food. We let her know the ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) will pull up in front of the center at lunch time. She returns to her car. Disaster Mental Health asks if she needs anything else. She shrugs and says, “No.”
When the ERV shows up with 150 meals, she is there with her family. Her husband and 5 year old son join her. Their story is the ongoing story of the victims of Sandy. They have lost everything. Her husband, Louis Crespo, is looking for a job. She has a job now, but they have nowhere to live. Money was tight before Hurricane Sandy and now it is so much worse. They have been in two shelters, a hotel and now FEMA is trying to help them get an apartment. They think they have found one. It will be much smaller than their home but they smile brightly as they think about establishing a “home” again.
Louis says he can replace the furniture, the toys and the clothing. He tears up when he says, “But we have lost all the baby photos of our only son. That breaks my heart!”
There is a small playground and Louis pushes Jedwin on a swing while his wife, Jennifer, finishes her lunch. They look like a wonderfully happy family. No one would guess what they have been through. Louis says it has been very traumatic for his five year old son. “I am staying positive for him. I want him to see that everything will be OK.”
He says the one thing that has made this ordeal bearable is the wonderful volunteers he has met from all over the United States. He can’t believe the caring that has poured into New Jersey. The caring has outweighed the horror that so many families have lived through.
He is a strong, proud father. He has worked hard to establish a good life for his family. His strength and positivity will carry them through.
See more photos at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/87969009@N04/
About the American Red Cross North Jersey Region:
The American Red Cross North Jersey Region provides programs and services throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, with a combined population of 5.7 million. The region trains and mobilizes 4,500 volunteers who support the delivery of services in the community. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 419 local disasters, helping 929 families displaced by home fires; educated more than 15,000 community members about disaster preparedness; collected more than 28,500 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; helped 844 military families send emergency messages, receive financial assistance, and get counseling and referrals; assisted 870 military members and their families facing deployment on how to access our services anywhere in the world; and trained 143,344 individuals with lifesaving skills in CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.