Voice talent community effort to organize assistance

Posted on November 9, 2012 by



work conditions for a few days

This post is inspired by what I had seen on Nethervoice yesterday, a blog run by voice talent Paul Strikwerda. Please forgive if this Voice123 employee uses this post to not talk about voice overs, but more so what has been happening with Hurricane Sandy the last week. I wanted to write this based on the warm wishes being sent to me during the last 10 days, and requests for ‘how one can help’.

And the truth is…I have no idea. This has been overwhelming. I reside on the north shore of Staten Island, NY, with a stunning view of downtown Manhattan, not far from where neighborhoods I grew up in. You may think of Staten Island and think of Mob Wives and Jersey Shore, but I think of the place where I went to high school with famous actresses and actors like Jennifer Esposito and Yancy Arias. Staten Island is where Alyssa Milano lived for a while. I went to Wagner College, with one of the best theatre programs on the east coast. There is a rich history behind where I live, some of it is good and bad. Living where I do now was the cheapest compromise I could think of at age 24, if I wanted to take up an acting career in New York City. The view and free ferry ride is what kept me here the last 15 years. I had a bleacher seat view of 9/11, and proudly have watched the new tower slowly build up over the last 10 years.

But let me explain the past 10 days, and by no means, am I complaining…

After the hurricane, I had no power. I went to my mom’s house after driving through an obstacle course of trees and blackouts. People on Staten Island do not exactly drive very safe, and having no traffic lights turned getting to mom’s 14 miles away, a crazy experience that required sharp reflexes. My mom enjoyed the fact that her kids had to all come to her house to work. She lives in an area unaffected, just a few miles from the devastated Tottenville area of the island. I got to my mom’s house, I missed one day of work, and started working again with Voice123. I answered emails, and spoke with voice talent, while two nieces and nephews climbed on me and made comments about people’s headshots. They watched cartoons, and I let them know when I knew a person from a cartoon. At night, the electric company shut off power. We were on an electricity curfew of sorts, so they could work on fixing issues. Three days later, power came back. During the weekend, it was time to go help neighbors in need, but we could not help as much as we wanted. There was a gas shortage. Myself…I have not driven in several days except when absolutely necessary, and have not gone out. It’s not a time to waste anything. We were able to assist local neighbors, but…I learned quickly that tweets and Facebook pages only do so much. They are communication channels and donating money is all some people can do. During this week, I started to shut down my normally creative problem solving brain. The devastation was so widespread, I could not think of any ideas to organize, and oddly certain areas were spared. It reminded me of those 5000 piece puzzles my mom would start, and never finish. Portions of it look great, while others just looked like a bunch of puzzle pieces. Who knew where to start? Still, it was important to move in a direction to attempt to maintain normalcy.

Why? Back in 2001, after 9/11, I found out that New York City is depended upon by people and businesses across the country. I learned that a farmer in Carmel, Iowa could not give a rat’s behind about why their bank card is not working because the bank controlling it collapsed, literally. They need to put food on the table. My problem is mine, not theirs. In addition, New Yorkers are funny because we think we should always know things ahead of time,  and many expect us to predict the future. These are tough expectations to live up to, but because we know life must go on, we go to work to keep the machine moving. Are we asked to work? No. Do we have an excuse not to work? Yes. We wear it as a badge of courage. The morning after the hurricane, everyone went to go get coffee from the corner deli, and were saddened to find they had no power too. Oddly, we then asked why they had no power, but we were just “breaking their b***s” for not having a back up generator, which would need to run on gas, but you can’t gas if the pumps are electric. Anyways…This week, people affected by devastation were called on to vote, and the next day we were hit with a snowstorm. I normally like snow, but not this time. The power went out again briefly, but by this time, all we could do is laugh at the cruel irony. If you don’t, you give up. There were people who chose to stay outside their homes and protect their belongings, rather than go to a warm shelter. Maybe I don’t own anything expensive, but I do not understand that way of thinking. All I have written here is about one specific area that was hit pretty bad, but not as hard. The dangerous thing right now is that 10 days into this, people not affected are getting sick of the images, and just want to move on, while localized efforts are still in great need across a large area. In addition, Staten Islanders are hard people to help. They can be quite abrasive, never ask for handouts, yet always expect others to know what they want and need.

At a loss for ideas, I would like to thank Paul Strikwerda for sharing what he did on his blog. It was a reminder that changing the world starts with one person’s effort to help another. I do ask…

If you know any other voice talent in need of assistance after Hurricane Sandy, please post information on how the community can help in the comments below. Voice talent have contacted me asking how to help people where I live, and other talent in Long Island have written to see how I am doing. All I can think of right now, if you want to help people where I live, is this Facebook page, Staten Island Parent.

Once again, thank you for your warm wishes during the week, and your comments on Twitter. It means so much to all of us here!