Author’s Note: It’s easy as the days go on to kind of put on the mental backburner the effects of the hurricanes that hit Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico. The worst seems to be past and now we are fully in the rebuild stage but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to keep vigilant when help is needed. I’ve been holding on to a story about helping out the community of Immokalee that Calvary Christian Head Coach Adam Bond wrote on Medium.Com so I could use it to help remind people of what some of our lacrosse community went through and I will put that article up over the weekend.
The playwright George Bernard Shaw, in 1931, is credited with a saying that we sort of shorthandedly say today “youth is wasted on the young”. It kind of refers to how much time we fail to utilize when we are young, energetic and able to do so many things.
But not always.
Today I received a submission from Gulliver Prep Head Coach Jim Piggot, written by one of his players Zach Ruwitch. Zach’s a junior long pole who started last season for Jim and Jim was really impressed with what Zach did to help make a difference after Hurricane Irma and encouraged him to put it in words.
So here it is . . .
Hurricane Irma came through Miami and the Florida Keys on Sunday September 10th. During the storm, the wind knocked over 3 large trees in my backyard, and the water rose over 6 feet. After the storm, while my family and I were cleaning up our home and yard, I started thinking about the family I have in the Florida Keys. After seeing what happened to Miami without a direct hit, I could only imagine what the Keys had gone through. I started brainstorming with my family, and we decided that we could organize a relief effort for the people devastated by Irma in the Keys.
I made a simple post on my Instagram and Snapchat requesting hurricane relief donations, and asked some of my friends and family to repost it. My entire family reposted the message, as did their friends, and the supplies started to flow in. At first, we were only getting a couple cases of water and some non-perishable foods. After a couple of days, donations had picked up rapidly and the supplies had taken over most of our house. Our neighbors Mike Lowell, a former MLB player, and businessman, Rodney Barreto heard about our efforts and helped both donate and spread the word. Through social media, a small craft brewery in Wynwood, Veza Sur, helped us collect over 6 pallets of water, toiletries, food, etc. We had compiled a significant amount of donated supplies.
After less than a week of collecting, we ended up with 27 pallets of supplies filling an entire 53 foot semi-truck, generously donated by Costa Farms. The truck was filled with over 500 cases of water, female care products, baby wipes, cleaning supplies, clothing, non-perishable foods, the list goes on.
On Saturday the 23rd of September, my family drove down behind the semi to the keys and what we saw was incredible. Houses had been completely washed away, all the trees were dead, sand that had washed over the road was on the sides like snow banks, the entire contents of homes lined US 1 ruined by the sea water that had entered resident’s homes. It was heartbreaking to see firsthand the impact and devastation.
When we arrived in Marathon, the people we had been in contact with to help distribute the supplies turned out to not actually be in the National Guard as they had led us to believe. We had to re-evaluated the situation and came up with an alternate plan. At this point, I learned that being flexible and having a plan B is always necessary. We reached out to the EOC in Marathon discussed a few options, and learned they were overwhelmed with supplies and lacked storage space.
We regrouped, and discussed our options. Given the devastation in Puerto Rico from hurricane Maria, we reached out to another neighbor, former MLB player, Jorge Posada, who was coordinating a relief effort for Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria had made a direct hit. His effort had a warehouse where we could drop all of the materials off for them to be put in a container and shipped to Puerto Rico where the need was immense. We were all happy to know the supplies would be going to people who needed them desperately.
This experience really opened my eyes to how much devastation storms can do, and how people can literally lose everything. It enlightened me that we all can a difference, and how quickly the power of social media can be used for good.
Way to go Zach!
Any other members of our lacrosse community out there who have a similar story please send them in!