This is a Guest Post by Noreen Heffernan www.Growingladies.blogspot.com
I write my own blogs, but this one tugged at my heart strings and I requested the author to allow this inclusion. Hope you all get the same heart wrenching feeling followed by the overarching pride and passion that these words invoked in my heart.
Casino Pier Seaside Heights, NJ
*I would ride the Jet Star as an 8-year-old girl. The rickety old roller coaster, even at that time, was full of joy and suspense for my little self.
Jet Star at Casino Pier
*My family would drive up on the beach of Island Beach State park, back in the pre-teen days. We would grab sandwiches from Wa-Wa and have a picnic on the beach in the evenings.
*As a teenager, I would go to the Seaside Heights beach every summer with my friends. Sheridan Ave baby!! Tanning contests, beach chairs set up 12 in a row, and we would walk to the Sawmill to get a slice and a soda for like 2 bucks during long 8-hour beach days.
Boardwalk Seaside Heights
*After prom, we rented hotels in Seaside Heights close enough to smell the ocean air, which would hardly mask the smell of beer. J (Sorry Mom).
*In my 20’s, I worked at the Seaside boardwalk in the summers between college. I would set up shop at a booth or roam the boardwalk/beach with my friend checking badges. We would go on rides during off time. Best job ever!
*JENKS-where we would dance away any problems and then have a slice after closing.
*At 23, after I got engaged, we went to the Surf Club to clink glasses and meet up with friends.
*My bridal shower was across the street from the beach in Point Pleasant.
*I spent most birthdays on the boardwalk of Point Pleasant, having dinner with my friends, drinking Blondies and then we would have one too many at Martell’s Tiki bar.
Seaside Heights Boardwalk
Before Snooki and the cast of Jersey Shore came to town, Seaside Heights wasn’t “big” or “Known” to the world. We lived our lives and made our memories. I grew up there. It is my familiar place. It is my heart. No matter what anyone says, it is a wonderful, real place; a place that gave back to me tenfold in the form of fun, friendship, laughter and love. To see it now...is to see a piece of my heart breaking.
Last night my 3 year old daughter sat on top of the couch and sang “America the Beautiful” It was endearing and hilarious since she didn’t get all of the words right. I made her sing it again. I needed a laugh. Ample timing. Sitting there, amidst all of the disaster and devastation the east coast has faced, particularly my home, that moment felt priceless. Thank goodness these kids can stay innocent in their minds. If I can, I need to shelter them from everything right now. Even with no power, we are able to have sleepover parties in the dark, and have flashlight discos…at least we have our home. At least we have sweatshirts and socks and hats and gloves. What about the children and the people that don’t?
Yesterday I stood in Target behind a family who lost everything. The mother, with her 3 kids were trying to start a life anew, one piece of clothing at a time. The 12-year-old daughter was holding a newborn baby who was in a onesie, without pants or socks or a blanket to keep warm. The 12 year old was in her pajamas, wearing old beat up sneakers on her feet. She started complaining and her mom took her by the shoulders and said, “We just lost everything.”
Jet Star in its final resting place
My heart broke. Outside the store, I asked them if they would take an extra blanket from my car. They refused. I circled around the parking lot and gave them all the cash in my wallet. They nodded took it. It was only $25 but something is better than nothing. This is one story! One! There are thousands upon thousands of more like that. We need to help these people. If you are reading this and have a roof above your head and extra dollars in your pocket, help those who don’t. Help those who have lost everything.
How do we help? We open our pockets and hearts. Nothing is small. This is what is so wonderful about America. This is what makes us beautiful. Instead of spending $25 on Starbucks, buy a blanket and donate it. Instead of putting away $50 this month, put away $20, and give the rest to the less fortunate.
The strength of the individual
This is what makes our country strong…different…. And now, as I look at pictures of the place where I grew up, where I created and hold on to all of my memories, my sadness is replaced with motivation.
The broken Casino Pier
I’m not the only one. I saw it in the volunteers at Toms River North HS, organizing and sorting donated clothing. I saw it in the overflow of supplies and donations. I saw it in facebook posts urging people to help, collecting, organizing, donating, and shipping. I see it everywhere.
Today, I realized there is more kindness than not. There is more togetherness than not. There is more support than not. There is more hope than not…
One act at a time, we can do it. We can rebuild the Shore; the place where so many created so many priceless memories.
And so last night when I listened to my daughter sing, I understood the words more than ever…
“And crown thy good, with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea”