Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy 6th Month Anniversary - Union Beach Memories

Today is 6 months that the Union Beach Photos and misplaced items started. It started with two photos. The first photo I found was Camille photo on the corner of Pine and 6th street in my brothers driveway. Then Allie V at the same time found Mary  sisters photo. Union Beach Memories was born.

This journey has been amazing. While there was mass destruction in the town, Allie and I started picking up the photos, drying them on the deck of my brothers’ home. If you would have asked me 6 months ago if I would still be handing out photos, the answer would have been NO. In my head this project would have been completed months ago. Who knew we had so many shutterbugs. The days following the storm Tomás Dinges found me through Becky. She told him what I was doing. Apparently, he thought it was a big deal so he did a story on the project which lead to so many additional opportunities.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Danielsen who guided me in the early days of the project. Without her guidance and support this project would still be struggling with thousands of photos. She sacrificed time with family and friends to help the community.

The first photos that I returned physically were to Carol at the voting booth. The first person to find out me digging through the photos at Boro Hall was Leeann. She was so excited to find a photo of her mom, the girls and football photos. It was so chaotic sitting in the corner with boxes of photos all wet and muddy that I couldn’t take from Boro Hall. You don’t know how many times I thought of kidnapping the photos. I finally did kidnap the photos 6 weeks into the project. I didn’t ask permission, I just did it.

Karyn who was trying to recover her items allowed me to use her garbage to clean and scan photos. As the weeks passed, Joseph  and Lisa helped me move the photos into their basement. This allowed for 1000's of photos to be dried at a time instead a few hundred. All along the way, there have been wonderful people to help me, guide me and support the project.

Gordon Nuttall flew into New Jersey to help Union Beach Memories. It still leaves me speechless that a company like FlipPal (http://flip-pal.com/) cared enough to loan 12 portable scanners so we could do our work. Gordon didn’t just donate the scanners he donated his time and money to the project. I can never thank him enough for taking a chance on this project.

So many wonderful people have come into my life because of this project. From random strangers that helped clean up Union Beach that realized how important the photos were for the families and turned them into the Boro. For people that have read the articles about the project and just sent a note of well wishes.

Thank you families, you have been an inspiration. Trust me, I needed this project more than it needed me. Through this experience I have grown and developed skills that I never knew I had. The photo project gave me a purpose and maybe some meaning. It guided me through the horrors we were dealing with.

I remember each picture like I took it. I remember each moment a family member told me about the photo they had returned. Those are the moments that make this project so important and special. The journey of the photos is not just about the piece of paper but what it means to the person that receives it.

We have had a few dark moments. The photos departing from the firehouse never to be seen then returned to their rightful place. The "borrowing of photos" without permission. Yes each time we got sandy kicked up and we went to task but we are still standing strong.

Thank you, for being there to pick me up when I needed it, lending a supportive hand when we had open scans. Kicking my arse and the unconditional love that has been shared through this crazy journey. Thank you for allowing me to have your precious memories and helping me return them to you. Happy 6th Anniversary of becoming friends, family and a wonderful community.

Special thanks to my nephew Mikey, if it wasn't for him collecting Rocks, the photos would have blown away. :-)

We are still moving through this journey. One positive thought after another. We keep moving forward to our future with our memories tucked under our arm.