Notes from a Jersey Girl

by Lisa G Westheimer

Paying it Back, Paying it Forward: Helping those impacted by Hurricane Harvey

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Screenshot of USEF Equine Disaster Relief page, click on the link in the body of this post to donate now.

In August 2011 Hurricane Irene came to town.  I got a funny feeling and shipped the horses to a nearby indoor equestrian facility.  The night of the storm, a tree fell and smashed both their barns.  Having them on premises would have been devastating.  Many kind and helping hands helped me clear the property, fix the roofs and they were home in about 3 days.  An insurance adjuster drove from Texas to come inspect the damage and cut me a check immediately.  I will be forever grateful for all the help I received and am so lucky I had the resources to restore and rebuild so quickly.  During the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, my small business was in the “red zone,” i.e. below 14th Street.  This qualified us for a loan free grant of about $6,000 made available by donations to a relief fund generated by donations sent worldwide to assist those impacted economically.  This helped us make payroll during a time where business was pretty much at a standstill in the area.  Not only did it help us keep our business open, it gave us hope and strength to feel the kindness of strangers.

I will never forget those times and those gestures.  I will forever try to pay it back and pay it forward.  When I saw the devastation in Texas due to Hurricane Harvey I knew I had to find some way to help.  I have decided to answer the call made by the USEF to contribute to their equine disaster relief program to assist in the rescue and care of horses in the affected areas.  I have also decided to give to our local charity, St Hubert’s which is organizing the relocation of 100 shelter animals from the affected areas so that room can be made for pets of owners displaced by the devastating storm.  St Huberts will be distributing these animals to their sister affiliates throughout NJ, one of which is Father John’s Animal House in Lafayette, near where I keep my horses in winter and when I’m on extended vacation.  I will be donating to them as well, I’m sure they can use some extra funds.

I figure, if I can buy a couple bags of dog and cat food and give funds to help someone like me find a safe, dry place for their horse, in a very small way, I’ve done my job as a human being trying to get along on planet Earth.  I hope you feel the same way.  I hope you try to help out any way you can through these organizations or whichever move your heart.  Pay it back and pay it forward.

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Author: Lisa G Westheimer

I am a ceramic and glass artist living and working in West Orange, NJ, USA. I have a masters degree in ceramics from Montclair State University and teach at the Montclair Art Museum, both in Montclair, NJ. Prior to this I was co-owner of "The Manhattan Expedition Inc" and was a NYC Building Code and Zoning Specialist in Manhattan, my main claim to fame as a Loft Conversion Specialist in Soho and Tribeca in the 1980's and 1990's, and a specialist in Landmarks Preservation and Special Places of Assembly, particularly the Fashion Shows in Bryant Park and any weird sort of thing happening in Manhattan worthy of getting thrown out of the Commissioner's office. But mostly I'm a Jersey Girl, born in Rutherford, schooled in a private school in Montclair, did a stint living in Greenwich Village then Soho before fleeing to Llewellyn Park in West Orange, NJ where I learned how to clean and restore stuffed bald eagles!!!! I can mostly be found in my studio or on the campus of The Montclair Art Museum (where I teach) or on the back of my horse Buddy, either in my backyard or at a farm in Sussex County.

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