Resilience in Action

One week ago, Hurricane Florence landed in North Carolina and didn't leave for days. Our area of the state fortunately ended up with mostly rain and very little impact, but neighbors to our Southeast were not so lucky. Watching the news coverage of individuals, businesses, and the university assessing the damage and creating a recovery plan, I wonder where does one even start?

As I heard someone talking this week about the 50th anniversary of Arthur Ashe winning the U.S.Open and then using his position as a platform for advocacy, I remembered his quote that I used here. It seemed fitting for not only someone trying to break into a field where their race, gender, or class is underrepresented, but also for any adverse situation where one needs resilience.

Start where you are - be mindful and do an honest assessment of the situation. Let go of the stories, excuses, and mindsets that taint the image and get in your way. Use what you have - what resources are available to you that you may not even realize are there? Whether actual physical resources, your own internal strength, or the support of others - find it, use it, and express gratitude for it. Do what you can - you might not be able to solve all of the problems or completely change the situation, but you have the power to do something, move the needle a little, and make a positive impact. I once heard someone describe resilience not as just bouncing back from adversity, but responding to it by growing even stronger.

My college-aged niece provides a great example of this in action. She goes to school in the affected area and evacuated before the storm hit. Back home, she picked up shifts at an independent living facility that she's worked at for years. She felt for her home-away-from-home, but didn't know what to do since she wasn't physically there to help. She heard of other students organizing drives for food and supplies to send into the area and she jumped at it.

She started where she was - an area not devastated by the storm and filled with people wanting to help. She used what she had and formed a partnership with her employer to increase publicity and access to possible contributors as well as provide a drop off location and storage for donated items. And she's doing what she can. Regardless of how much she gathers (which looks like it might actually be quite a lot), the items will help a number of families facing unfortunate circumstances as they start to rebuild. Every little bit helps.

I'm always fascinated by items washed up on the beach and the story behind how it ended up there. What storm or event caused the destruction of this beam and washed it up onto the California beach where I found it? Where will the pieces of piers, homes, stores, and other debris from Hurricane Florence end up?

But more importantly, what will coastal Carolina residents build to replace the damage and make the community and its residents even stronger?