All posts by Marie Coppola

Marie Coppola A long-time human resources administrator and paralegal (B.S. in Business Administration/ Psychology, Certified Paralegal), Marie writes to aid employees with positive career options and resources, and to assist in career development solutions for students and employees; counsels on resumes, securing employment, and being successful with promotable possibilities. Marie finds inspiration in her faith, which she enjoys passing on to others, and finds gratification in helping others wherever she can. Got a question, need advice? Marie can be reached at mcopp@ymail.com

Easter in the 1950’s

 

Looking back and reminiscing about Easter times,  it is remembered as a different holiday culture than it is today.   Sometimes there was the arrival of a real rabbit or baby chicks.   They were pampered and soon argued over who would take care of them.   They were never cooked and eaten  – but were found new homes as they grew older.

On Easter Sunday, the ladies would don their Easter bonnets – straw hats, felt hats, big hats, mantillas or any head covering.   Even the men & boys wore fedoras to go along with their suits and ties.   The ladies dressed in pastels or navy blue dresses or suits.   New spring outfits were purchased for the newness of spring .  The only other time we all got new attire  was for the first day of school.   New outfit, new shoes – the works – along with some hand-me-downs.   If you lived not far from the ocean, and the weather was warm and spring-like, jaunts were taken to the beach (also known as – the shore) to walk the boardwalk with other Easter bonnet and fedora dress-ups.

The only ones who may not have been fully dressed in newness were the youngest of the family – they wore the past-Easter outfits of their older sisters or brothers and it was not unusal for some Easter picture remembrances showing a new navy coat covering a slightly longer dress underneath – an almost fitting  Easter dress passed down.

The parents were dressed up, too – suits, hat and ties – and don’t forget the white gloves and black patent leather shoes.   Some of these were passed down through the family, too.

When we woke up that morning, we all ran to the table where there would be Easter baskets with bright green plastic grass holding  treats which we were not allowed to eat until we came back from church.

The dressed-up family went to church as a unit.  For other families – the only time they did that was attending church  for Christmas.

After church, we would go home and seek out the hidden colored Easter eggs the Easter Bunny (our Mom & Dad)  left for us –  some of which we had ‘eyed’ before we left for church.   After they were all collected – Mom always knew exactly how many there would be.   For breakfast, we cut and ate  the Italian Easter Egg Pie – my favorite.

Traditional Easter treats were also consumed during the day: They were eaten at ‘dinner’ around 3:00 pm which included  artichokes, roasted lamb, a special sweet bread called “Colomba” (which means dove, and it’s made in the shape of a dove) and chocolate eggs, which almost always are hollow and have a special prize inside.   Of course, there was also the ‘prima piastra’  or ‘first plate’ which was a pasta of some sort – lasagna or ravioli.   Red wine was offered to all – even sips to the youngest.   That may seem strange, but when teen classmates made a big deal about getting wine or beer to drink. we weren’t interested – we had sampled it at home.  None of us became ‘drinkers’.

Easter became a favorite holiday along with Christmas.   Christmas was a vehicle for getting presents from Santa Claus and when we were older-  we focused on the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Easter was getting new clothes and Easter baskets from the Easter Bunny;  when we were older,  it was a vehicle for the love and gift of Christ’s gift  of Himself to us for our sake.

Marie Coppola April 13, 2019

 

 

Settling into Your New Job

                 

A mind that is stretched by new experiences can  never go back  to its old dimensions.     Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

You finally landed that job you were praying you would get!   Monday is here and it’s your first day.  Here are some tips to help you ‘settle in’ your new surroundings with confidence and a positive attitude, along with some precautions.

1) Try to arrive at least  10 or 15 minutes before the normal starting hours. This not only gives you time to settle in, turn your computer on, or listen to voice mail messages.  It also gives you a relaxed frame of mind for friendly good mornings instead of rushing in at the last minute or a few minutes late and get a reputation for ‘always being late’.

Employees who arrive before the workday begins are usually the ones who get good reviews and/or promotions. Likewise advice on leaving at the end of the day. Plan on staying 15 minutes or so after work if possible; never leave early – someone always loves to make an issue about that and the reputation will stick.   Those who usually get ahead in a workplace arrive a little earlier and leave a little later.

2) Start the new job with a To Do List. This List itemizes tasks that may have been sent to you via email, voicemail or verbally.   Jot it down so it is not forgotten and when you have a few minutes, prioritize the List by importance. If you don’t get to it all that day, start the next day’s List with the undone items so they can have first attention. Keep a file folder with the checked-off ‘Done’ items, date they were completed, with any information that may be needed in the future for follow-up.

Not only do ‘To Do’ Lists give you a reputation for getting things done, they also give you a feeling of accomplishment as you go over the list and view the things you did that day. On a hectic and busy day, those accomplishments will help neutralize the feeling that you ‘got nothing done today’.

3) Go slow getting to know your new co-workers.   In your ‘being new’ nervousness, you may reveal more about yourself than you really want to. You may be telling your life history to the office gossiper.  If you are asked to lunch with the group, be neutral to everyone, polite and friendly. The work environment is revealed at lunchtime, and you will hear inside scoops of what is going on with work, projects and people.

Don’t make judgments or remarks. Wait until you get to know the people and the issues and not even then.   And don’t repeat what you hear at lunch or in the halls to your co-workers. Gossip spreads through offices faster than forest fires. And your name will be attached to it.

4) Go to lunch at your appointed lunch time and take the one-half hour or whatever the rule is. Some companies allot 45 minutes or one hour for lunch. Long-time employees may stretch their lunch times from the one-half hour lunch to a 45 minute or one hour lunch. That’s their choice, but as a new employee, you don’t want to get a reputation that you ‘take long lunches’.  It’s a title that you may earn quickly and it will stick with you. Your supervisor will know about it sooner than you think.    Co-workers usually stagger lunch times so that someone is always available, and you will get off on the wrong foot in  if someone is waiting for you to come back from lunch and you’re late and taking time away from their own lunch.

5) Start off your new job with a team attitude. There are different ways to help someone out even if it is picking up their mail or copy order at office services. Your helpfulness will reflect back from your co-workers who will do the same for you. This becomes invaluable on a really busy day when you need an extra set of hands; kindness goes a long way and people react positively to it.
When someone turns their back on being a team player with the rest of the group, the group usually reacts in the same manner.

A first good impression of a newcomer usually casts a lasting reflection of him or her them for future work experience.  By the way, these tips can also be adapted to those first days of college.   Good luck in your new surroundings!

Marie Coppola © Revised  March 2019

St. Patrick’s Day

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th

Patrick was born to wealthy Christian parents a little over 1,600 years ago in the British Isles.  St. Patrick wasn’t born in Ireland; his parents were Roman citizens (son of Calpurnius, a Roman-British deacon and Conchessa) living in modern-day England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales (scholars cannot agree on which). He was born in 385 AD. By that time, most Romans were Christians and the Christian religion was spreading rapidly across Europe.

At the age of 16, while on his father’s country estate, he was kidnapped by pirates and taken to then pagan Ireland where he was sold as a slave.  He spent several years in Ireland herding sheep and learning about the people there.  Despite the demands of his life there, he kept his faith and  began contemplation and understanding of prayers.  At the age of 22, he managed a miraculous  escape;  he made his way to a monastery in England where he spent 12 years growing closer to God. After six years of servitude, he escaped and found a ship that took him back home.   He had a dream which told him to go back and Christianize Ireland.  Eventually, Patrick was ordained a priest and later a bishop, after which he was granted his wish to go back to Ireland.

St. Patrick used the shamrock to preach about the trinity.    Many claim the shamrock represents faith, hope, and love, or any number of other things but it was actually used by Patrick to teach the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and how three things, the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit could be separate entities, yet one in the same. Obviously, the pagan rulers of Ireland found Patrick to be convincing because they quickly converted to Christianity.

According to legend, St. Patrick drove all the snakes, or in some translations, “toads,” out of Ireland. In reality, this probably did not occur, as there is no evidence that snakes have ever existed in Ireland, the climate being too cool for them to thrive. Despite that, scholars suggest that the term “snakes” may be figurative and refer to pagan religious beliefs and practices rather than reptiles or amphibians.

The original color associated with St. Patrick is blue, not green as commonly believed. In several artworks depicting the saint, he is shown wearing blue vestments.  Green was associated with the country later, presumably because of the greenness of the countryside, which is so because Ireland receives plentiful rainfall. Today, the country is also referred to as the “Emerald Isle.”

His mission to Ireland lasted 30 years. During that time, he established monasteries, churches and schools throughout the country. He is credited with its eventual conversion.   He died March 17, 461 A.D.

The Irish have observed this religious holiday for thousands of years. But, how did we come to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the United States?  There are more Irish in the USA than Ireland.  Well, sort of. An estimated 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry. Some are pure-blood Irish, meaning they or their parents came from Ireland, but many more have mixed ancestry today. By contrast, there are 4.2 million people living in Ireland.    North America has only observed this holiday since the late eighteenth century. Even though not a legal holiday in the USA, St. Patrick’s Day is widely recognized and celebrated throughout the country with Irish festivals, parades, food like corn beef and cabbage, drinking green beer, and prominent displaying of the color green and Irish traditions.
Marie Coppola  Revised March 2019

 

div id=”counter24″>

Stop Murmuring and Disputing

 

Do you habitually complain, whine, argue and grumble? Do you know anyone who does not?  It seems to have become a habit for many of us.  You may know murmurings as being critical of others, bitterness, bickering, protesting or being unsociable.  Pessimism.  Negativity.   In the New Testament, Paul said: “Do you do all things without murmuring  and disputing?”

By the way, the word “murmurings” Paul refers to the complaints of the Israelites during their wanderings.

Have you noticed that people get caught up in heated and unending political discussions? — lots of murmurings going on there. Our government’s administration has caused new policies and procedures being enacted or offered – big time murmurings at home and the office.   Our culture is changing and we have continuous big time murmurings and complaints.

What do we do in answer to Apostle Paul’s instruction – not to complain in all things. Sometimes it’s hard not to vent.   Sometimes it feels good to get it off your chest.  It’s hard to comply with the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” How can we tweak that?  It seems niceness, politeness and respect are slowly moving down the tubes.

We could say, “If you can only say something negative, don’t say anything at all”.   Negative begets negative.   Positive begets positive. It’s difficult to be positive when things are looking bleak and/or scary, but does it help to heap more negativity onto the pile?

It can become a habit to view everything with a sour outlook which becomes a bitterness and creates more murmurings. There’s little worse than facing each day with doom and gloom. Becoming embittered won’t change the political problem of the day or create a new healthcare plan.

Listen to yourself and see how you approach these subjects. Do you always say things like, “I’m afraid that….” or “I know that things are going to get worse before they get better”…..or “I hate this or I hate that or I hate them or I hate him ….” or “That’s BS” or “they’re stupid” or “they are such a bunch of #&%$’s.  And the beat goes on and the words become more heated and your murmurings may keep you from sleeping well at night. Your fear and hate will become self-fulfilling. You become what you think.

We can offset these complaints by offering words of hope and compassion. Change your heart and you will change your attitude.  Kind thoughts and acts will replace your habits of negative thoughts. Negative and Positive thoughts cannot share the same space in your mind. Crowd out those negative ones. God is still in control and local, national and world events are not as hopeless as we make them.  Many others before us have lived through challenging times.  Bad times seem to be cyclical and eventually change from bad to better.

Be an agent for change. They say if you force yourself to smile, you will feel uplifted. ‘A smile is the lighting system of the face’…it sure beats the frowns and growls.  Smiles beget smiles.   Maybe your co-worker or spouse or friend is tired of ‘murmuring’ or listening to yours, too, and you can make the difference to change that.

Don’t get bogged down by the signs of the times. If you are spiritual, try to maintain a cheerful, willing mind, as we do what God has instructed. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Phil. 2:14-16a).

Fill your spirit with Paul’s teaching:  It can work and all you have to lose are your frown lines.

Marie Coppola (C) Revised February 2019

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing Love Day

 

Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” Barbara De Angelis

How do you communicate kindness and love?
We are not talking about greeting cards here. Although, Hallmark makes a good profit on all those cards most of us send to loved ones.  Just for the record, Valentine’s Day is the  2nd most celebrated holiday in the U.S. after Christmas.

Sending greeting cards can express the card’s sentiments for you – but you can communicate love and kindness in other ways. Here are some ways to give the best you have because you care.

1) Visit a friend in need, who could really use a visit and LISTEN to what he or she is telling you. Just listening, without interrupting, is one of the best ways to care about someone. Don’t offer advice or opinions.  Just listen.

2) If someone tells you a juicy tidbit of gossip, don’t repeat it. Let it die with you. Gossip is hurtful and serves no purpose to repeat it. The old adage, ‘Don’t believe anything you hear and half of what you see’ is a good one.

3) Make a phone call to an ill, homebound person and just say hello. It will mean much to them and may uplift them. Better yet, stop in and see them – and bring them a treat; a flower or a sweet. Or bring along some home-made chicken soup. The real treat is seeing you and having company.

4) Help out a frazzled mom and offer to take her kids to the library or some other function. It’s an hour or two out of your time; it will mean the world to her.

5) Visit one of the nursing homes and bring some travel toiletries or small gifts. Some of the live-ins there may not have had a visitor like you for years.

6) Listen patiently when your next-door senior neighbor complains yet again about barking dogs.  It may be the only communication he or she has had all day.

7) Give the woman in church who is celebrating her 80th birthday – a hug. She may not have been hugged in a long time. It’s a gift she will remember.  Elderly seniors who live alone are usually in need of affection and hugs.

8) Write a heartfelt letter to someone who has done a kindness for you. Don’t email or call your thank you.  Write him or her a note or letter – hand-written messages are becoming a rarity – and are special to the receivers.

9) Invite a recent widow or widower over for dinner. They are not used to eating alone and will welcome the invitation.

10) Check your pantry for extra cans that may be expiring in the next months. Donate them to a Helping Hand or Outreach program. These organizations pass foodstuffs quicker than they will expire. You may end up throwing them away — and someone will be extremely grateful for them.

11) Surprise a special child or your own or grandchild and plan a drop-in lunch visit at their school after you have checked in at the office.  Watch their eyes light up when they see you walk in. Small children thrive when you show them special attention.

12) Some  valentines come in packages and contain just a happy greeting – no mushiness.  Buy a couple of packs and send them to everyone you know who is alone, divorced or lost a spouse.  Valentine’s Day can be a lonely one for singles and unattached folks.  It will uplift them. And you, too.

Small acts of kindness may be the best that you can give. – it costs very little when you care and share your love.

© Marie Coppola, January 2019  revised

Books are Important

 

When I was 9 years old, my brother’s girlfriend who was 16,  gave me a book for Christmas entitled the “Cuckoo Clock”.  It was written by Mary Louise Molesworth  (29 May 1839 – 20 January 1921) who was an English writer of children’s stories.    It is noted that this book was a childhood favorite of Agatha Christie.

It was the first hardcover book I ever received for myself and I read it over and over and over.   It was about a young girl named Griselda whose mother has died and she comes to live with her two elderly aunts.   Living in their old house, and when sleeping, believes she can hear the sound of the old cuckoo clock from downstairs and thinks it may be alive. The Cuckoo Clock is an important classic children’s tale of adventure and fantasy and has been a popular book among young children who are interested in books of magic and adventure.  Despite the time it was written (1877),  the story doesn’t seem  out-dated or  old fashioned.  The themes of loneliness, friendship, and growing up are timeless.

According to the comments on Amazon about the book, others have sought out the book decades after they have read it – which I did also.   My love for reading this book at an early age not only brought me back to how life was at a much earlier time, but how Griselda used  her imagination to have a relationship with the cuckoo.  He appeared at certain times of the day and from that relationship she evolved  to enter into human relationships with  children her own age.

Isn’t that what reading does?   We learn knowledge, wisdom, information, advice, and even moral lessons.   We ‘live’ in the pages experiencing a ‘visit’ to the ‘world’ of the book – even better than movies or TV shows.   It creates an atmosphere of sharing the book’s messages to someone else who has read it.  We visualize the characters in their setting and look forward to the next chapter and what happens next.

Today, many children do not read as much as they once did as they are distracted by cell phones, smart phones, social media and video games.   This can reduce or replace human conversations, and imaginative thinking.   It is sad that some people brag their children or grandchildren receive cell phones or smart phones at age 2 and can play games on them.   Maybe we should shelve these contraptions – along with the TV and instead read to our kids & grandkids.   Planned trips to the library may stimulate their appetite to read.   Maybe they will even read the Bible.   Collect their favorite books into their own small library.

I used to read stories to my kids every night at bedtime.   They listened intently.   One night we were going out to a social event and I hurriedly read his favorite night-time  book to my 3-year old son.   To hasten the time, I skipped over paragraphs as I read faster than usual.   After the third ‘missed’ paragraph, my son’s face turned red  and he blurted out, “Read it Right!!”     He listened.   And I went back and did read it right.

Encourage your little ones to read – and read to them.   Have a reading ‘time’ and be an example of reading alongside them. too.   You will encourage bonds with them and maybe even have a conversation about them.  Reading is a not a chore or only done for homework – it is a source of enjoyment and growing.    It will help with their schoolwork and broaden their lives.

Even when they grown up and are on their own or married, there are great books you can share with them and/or their own children.   More bonds to share.

Marie Coppola January 2019

 

 

 

Do You Believe in Angels?

Christmas is still in the air and  an Associated Press poll reveals that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe in Angels;  77 percent of adults to be exact.   The Washington Times states that most Americans do believe in guardian angels who keep them safe in a dangerous world.  A new study says it’s this belief that keeps them from taking risks.

The most memorable angel in the movies is the Christmas classic, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life where Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey in the fictional town of Bedford Falls shortly after World War II – a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve gains the attention of his guardian angel, Clarence, who is sent to help him in his hour of need.  ‘And whenever an angel gets his wings, a bell rings.’  A great movie.

I’ve always believed that we all had guardian angels; angels who protect us from that close call while driving; or making us aware of things that could be harmful to us or simply keeping us from doing wrong.   What does the Bible say?

The Bible mentions angels frequently.  Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.   Only two angels–Michael and Gabriel–are mentioned by name in Scripture. These two names are masculine in gender.

According to the Bible, however, angels are spiritual (not physical)  beings. Although they can take on human form or appearance (as they do at times in Scripture), they do not have physical bodies like humans and so are neither “male” nor “female” in gender. Angels are essentially “ministering spirits”.  Jesus declared that “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have”.

Angels are everywhere — the intermediaries between God and man; and Jesus set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching: “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven”. Matthew 18:10.

It also tell us in the doctrine : ‘even little children have guardian angels, and these same angels are within the vision of God and they have a mission to fulfill on earth.’ There are a whole range of spirits whom God has created, with special categories such as cherubim, seraphim, and the archangel. We are familiar with archangels Gabriel and Michael.

There are many places in the New Testament that allude to ministering of angels: Gabriel announcing the good news of Jesus to Mary; the angel in the Garden of Gethsemane ministering to Jesus; and the angel who delivered Peter from prison. They are sometimes in the form of men and their purpose is very meaningful.

Angels in the Bible never appear as cute, chubby infants! They are always full-grown adults. When people in the Bible saw an angel, their typical response was to fall on their faces in fear and awe. Some Bible passages picture angels with wings. Other verses talk about angels flying, and we assume that the wings would be useful for that flight. But others say that angels may be able to move around without having to depend on wings, somewhat like clouds do. Most references to angels in Scripture say nothing about angels having wings and yet, Daniel and John both refer to angels as ‘flying’ by.

Our Lord often spoke of angels; in the New Testament – and because of this, churches teach  that everyone has a guardian angel based on references to them throughout the Bible.  “No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to His Angels God has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” “For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.”

Angels strengthened Jesus after his temptation and encouraged the apostles to keep preaching after releasing them from prison and gave Paul information about his shipwreck. Answering prayers – God often uses angels as His means of answering the prayers of His people. Caring for believers at the moment of death – In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, we read that angels carried the spirit of Lazarus to “Abraham’s bosom” when he died.

So — Do you believe YOU have a Guardian Angel?”   I know I do.  I can be very klutzy and my angel has prevented a lot of mishaps in my life!  I used to say ‘Wow, that was lucky’ and now I say thanks to my angel and to God.  For those of you who do believe there is a spirit out there watching over you and protecting you from most things – have you ever     heard  their bells ring?

Marie Coppola Revised December  2018

Thanksgiving Memories

 

Here we were – a group of unsophisticated teenagers – planning to go to Florida during our Thanksgiving break.   It didn’t matter to us that it was 17 hours & 36 minutes or 1,120.9 miles from NJ via I-95 S.  We had a pretty good car, there were four of us and what could go wrong?

Nothing went wrong on the way down with all our singing and happiness.   Our funds allowed us only a couple of overnight hotel days, enough for gas/tolls and we were confident.  We had a great time until it was time to go home to be there for Thanksgiving.   We allowed a day to travel back with gas and food – but forgot about the tolls.  Money was diminishing quickly.

To make up for disappearing monies, we cut down on food and decided to drive at night instead of stopping to sleep.  I remember my turn taking the wheel and fighting to keep my eyes open.   We stopped at an open diner at about 1:00 am on Thanksgiving Eve.    Half asleep, we were approached by a handsome man in cowboy garb who introduced himself – he was about 7 years older than we were.   He said he spotted us ‘driving all over the road” while he was taking some ponies back to his pony farm.   He pointed to his truck which was indeed his name and his farm’s name.   He said he would keep an eye on us as we were approaching the state of North Carolina.   Thinking, he said he would be right back; when he returned, he said he called his wife, Barbara, and they would like us to have Thanksgiving with them in NC.  Being from a northern city, we were leery and alert that we did not know this man or his wife.   He insisted we follow him and with high suspicion, we followed him – it was 4 against 1 plus we knew we wouldn’t get home in time, had no money left for tolls and we were plumb tired.

When he pulled up in front of his beautiful farmhouse, and, yes, there was a sign outside proclaiming his name and “Pony Farm”, his wife, Barbara came out and welcomed us.   Still NJ leery, we were shown to our rooms (each had its own bathroom) and told what time dinner was ready. Dinner was at his father’s house not far from his own.    The dinner was perfection of Southern charm & cuisine.   Our host, Herb, still in his cowboy hat, played the guitar and entertained the group while we were finishing off our dinner of Barbara’s home-made peach ice cream.   This was Southern Hospitality.

The next day, they hugged us good-bye with good wishes, and a $20 bill was found in the visor as we drove away.

We kept in touch all these decades later and each Thanksgiving I send them flowers.   We were invited back when we married and had families.  They have  a cottage near their pool in their  backyard and many years later,  we and our kids spent some quality time with them and sometimes at our homes.   Although we were Catholic and they were Baptist, we attended their church and they ours — on the Sabbath.

Herb has passed away but Barbara and I keep in touch and sometimes visit.   I wrote on her Thanksgiving card this year and reminded her that our story of their caring and sharing Thanksgiving with us is repeated at every Thanksgiving meal.   Whoever hears it knows that not only did it affect the original four of us but is repeated to others .    Hopefully, sharing and caring will go forward as it does with our friends and family.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?”   Matthew  25:31-40

Marie Coppola   November 2018

 

 

 

After Hurricane Florence

October was a heavy duty month in more ways than one.   Many of us had to leave our homes not knowing what condition it would be in when we returned.   Would we have to throw away all the food we bought in case the electricity went off?   Would there be water in the house or neighborhood?   Would there be looting going on?

We went to Georgia for 5 days and upon our return, we were blessed to have no flooding, no electricity loss and nothing missing.   Some debris here and there but not as bad as some friends and acquaintances who had heavy water and home damage.    Some folks had loss of a loved one that week and compounded with the loss of one’s home – it weighed heavily upon them.   My motto those weeks was “You never know what a friend, neighbor or stranger has to endure in their heart”.   I thought of that when someone tried to cut in front of me driving  or got impatient in the store line or was just downright grouchy.   Everyone got more patience and caring from me in return.    I try to bring it along now that things are somewhat more normal.   But it’s not for all of us.

Our church’s school had flooding which disrupted the regular schedules and locations.   Our many church ministries also were disrupted – some of which were difficult to relocate due to changing of the regular schedules and locations.

They say there is always ‘some good that comes out of something bad’ – sometimes it’s hard to look for it and sometimes it is just apparent.

Concentrating on what should we take and what should we leave including ourselves  – I didn’t listen to or miss all the election and political landscapes – it seems civility and good old manners were absent from our everyday routines; until Florence came into town.

Although stress is high from leaving your home, it was negated by the camaraderie and caring of others on the road, in restaurants and hotels.   We saw familiar faces , shared our experiences and learned from others of their experiences.

Back at home five days later we saw firsthand the good over the bad.   Many of our weekly-held ministries had to rearranged due to space and manpower.    The church communities in our area came to our rescue by offering their space and accommodations.    God is alive in North and South Carolina.   No church functions were cancelled, ministries continued and new friendships were formed.   Some of the ministries – held weekly – continued and didn’t miss even one – much to the relief of the participants involved.   The space-giving church staffs  treated us as members offering to help and/or just by sharing their spaces and hospitality.  The churches in our area do help one another – it doesn’t matter what denomination we or  they are – they are practicing the Commandment “Love Thy Neighbor”.    It was a welcome feeling through a bad situation and the feeling magnifies and goes forward.

One can only hope that good neighbors & situations continues not only here but in all of America.  It is said that our country comes together closer in times of distress.   Let’s pray that our country leaves behind the nastiness, fighting and disarray of our political system.  We need to love our neighbors as we do ourselves – we can do it even with distress, problems  or hurricanes .  Caring and loving  is all around us if we only seek it out.    And it multiplies.   And can change our culture.

 

 

Thank You DEM Randy Webster

Before Florence came along,  I had a bad impression of being part of a large, destructive hurricane.   I still do – they are invasive, unpredictable, scary, and bearers of death and destruction.   Staying in your home is comfortable unless the electricity goes out and the toilet won’t flush.   The food in the fridge starts to disfigure and you end up throwing away hundreds of dollars of  perishables.  Fear of flooding looms.   Hurricanes are not fun.  Especially if you feel it is imperative to evacuate and/or are told to do so.

There are many others evacuating – so when do you go and where do you go?    The state has rules and the best thing to do is follow them.  We did so – we went south and not inland for fear of rivers overflowing.   We ended up in a Georgia hotel which is located on Hospitality Avenue.   The rooms were very nice but our first impression was that of the hospitality.   The hotel members were compassionate, friendly and ready to help the situation any way they could.   They were a hard-working group – the hotel was filled to capacity with people from the Carolinas.

We were fortunate to be among neighbors, friends and others we knew.  Some of us played cards.  Others socialized.  Many were glued to their cell phones.   We all were aware of the TV giving out information over and over that we weren’t happy to hear.   After a few  days our  homes we left seemed more and more  fragile and in distress.   We would call neighbors who did not leave and try to find out details of our abandoned homes.   Did trees fall; is it flooding, are the highways clear, are the lights out?   Most of us did not sleep comfortably.

Finally, the evacuation was lifted.   Happiness filled for a short time until we realized we were going home but how, where, and best time to do so?   The actual reason for this account is what happened leaving Hospitality  and driving into the Unknown.   We stopped at the Welcome South Carolina center and picked up a SC 2018 Hurricane Guide.    Among helpful articles, it contained “important contacts”.  We used  3 of the phone numbers on the  6-hour drive home.  They were:  Current Road Conditions (1-888-877-9151); Re-entry (1-866-246-0133); Emergency Management (1-843-915-5150) as well as our local police department.  These phones are well-manned and most were picked up on the first ring!

We drove with added confidence that we could contact the well-qualified and compassionate persons at these numbers who answered our questions and had up-to-date info on highway safety and availability.    We cannot praise this program enough to alleviate the worry or fear of flooded areas or trouble spots or heavily-trafficked areas.

Our sincere and grateful appreciation to all the phone responders speedy access and answers to our questions of highway availability or any problems in our path.   We are grateful for such a program in our hurricane-possible state and especially to Randy Webster,  Director of the Horry County Emergency Management Department (EMD) .

In the publication Hurricane Guide, “Randy Webster wants to make sure you’re prepared in the event of a hurricane.”    Many hints such as what pet owners can do  in case disaster strikes.  A link to a site showing pet-friendly hotels is available on the EMD website.

Many, many thanks to him and the wonderful people in his well-run program for this valuable guide and resources.

Marie Coppola   September 2018