Natural and Personal Disasters – and a Path Forward

Disclosure:  the basis of this article is a philanthropic effort on the part of Custom Scoop.  I have been a paid contributor to their publication, Media Bullseye, as well as a guest host (unpaid) of their podcast.

I have been giving a whole lot of thought lately to disasters, both personal and those that mother nature conjures up.  I have also been thinking a lot about the tireless efforts that many of my friends have made  – more like personal crusades – to try to bring to an end many of the sad chapters that impact so many lives.

Examples include what I have written about before, such as Shonali Burke’s #Bluekey effort.  She has worked tirelessly of late, to:

…support the USA for UNHCR, which is a US-based 501c3 that supports UNHCR’s work.. [and to] to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.  People who are forced to flee their homes or face death is a human disaster.

Next, my friend Doug Haslam is doing his annual Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride, a grueling effort in which Doug rides through 46 (this is not a typo) towns through Massachusetts and solicits contributions that are donated directly to the Jimmy Fund. Not one cent of each dollar raised through riders’ sweat and determination was used for administrative and organizational expenses.  This year is different for Doug.  On May 14 of this year, Doug’s dad passed away from pancreatic cancer.  Losing a parent to cancer (I have as well) is a family tragedy and what many consider to be a personal disaster.

Finally, one of my new pals and someone whom I admire greatly is Jennifer Stauss Windrum whose mom has Stage 4 inoperable lung cancer.  And has never smoked a day in her life.  Rather than curl up in a ball and feel badly for herself, her family and her mom, Jennifer has taken on the establishment by putting together a movement called “WTF,” as in “Where’s the Funding?”  Jennifer has fought, lobbied and garnered quite a bit of media coverage to raise awareness of a funding to fight lung cancer. And as usual, Jennifer nails it with a simple statement on her Web site:

It’s time to bring attention to the THE #1 cancer killer in the U.S and the LEAST funded.

But I am burying the headline.  There are personal disasters and man made disasters.  It seems that Mother Nature has decided to mess with us of late with a spate of tornados, among the worst hitting Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  I am also privileged to know Ike Piggot.  After working 17 hours the day at his job at Alabama Power after the tornado hit, Ike found time to make a short YouTube video, holding up a simple piece of paper with a URL of how people can get involved.  He has also written about the topic that I will (finally) get around to.

My pals at Custom Scoop have not just stood on the sidelines, watching many of these man-made disasters.  They have decided to do something to help with their flagship product:

“…CustomScoop will provide free accounts for one year to the first 100 local chapters of the Red Cross or other bona fide relief organizations that qualify after filling out a short online form. We hope that these services, valued at approximately $600,000, will help these groups that face enormous financial challenges and find their human resources stretched thin.

Why is this important?  In ANY disaster, lives depend upon the speed with which first responders receive and react to information.  And when you think about disasters like the Tuscaloosa tornado, there was information pouring in from the media, bloggers, the Red Cross, the media, state, local and federal government agencies and others.  Somewhere in that fire hose of info are nuggets of information that the first responders need.  If bloggers are helping raise money, the Red Cross and others need to connect to know how to get the money there.  If there are offers of assistance from disaster relief organizations, they need to know what if being offered and how to accept it.  Same with efforts organized by well-known social media experts like Ike. Phones may or may not work after a tornado, but with a laptop, air card and someone who has access to a platform that can help like Custom Scoop this can, at the least, help the lines of communication, and at best, help save lives.

So think about this offer and if you know of someone who is in a position to be a first responder, please pass on this link:

I wish more than anything that I could have helped Doug and help Jennifer.  I have done a small part to help Shonali’s effort.  But in a time of nasty corporate scandals, it makes me proud to be associated with the Custom Scoop family – Chip, Jen and others who have been part of the company for many, many years.

And if you can, tweet this (icon up top) to let others know that when tragedy strikes, there is a company ready and able to help.  And just to pimp a little, you can:

It’s one thing to face tragedy and disaster, and another thing to do something about it. All of the above put the “social” in social media.


Mark Story


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