Just wanted to let everyone know that Poetry Breakfast is on hold for right now. I have not even looked at the site or any submissions since we began preparations for Hurricane Sandy more than a week ago.

While my family, myself, and my home survived the storm, many neighbors were not so fortunate. We live along the Raritan Bay which sits between NJ and Staten Island. Like all coastal areas of NJ we were hit hard. Many of the homes down the street were washed away and most of Union Beach, a small working class town, has had more than half of its town destroyed.

Needless to say, Poetry Breakfast is not a top priority for me right now.

I know there have been many pleas in the media and even a benefit concert to raise money for the Red Cross. Yes the Red Cross is a wonderful organization, however, they are not the only nor are they the main organization helping with relief and recovery.

A vast majority of our needs are being served by a little local non-profit called RAINE (Reaching Anyone In Need Everyday). On Sunday alone, they served over 20,000 meals, handed out clothes, helped residents clean up their damaged homes, provided diapers and toiletries, and so much more. They have been doing this every day since the day after the storm hit and will continue working daily to help our neighbors in Hazlet, Union Beach, Matawan, Keansburg, Keyport, and other Bayshore areas.

100’s of people have volunteered to help RAINE with their relief efforts. ALL the volunteers are local. Many have been without power for a week. You’ve seen the destruction that Sandy caused. What you have not seen is how amazing the people in Central New Jersey are. On the news, you see people pleading for help from the government and Red Cross. Around here, there are no pleas. People are taking care of each other. The best way I can put it is this: The wave of volunteers and donations from our own community is stronger than the 15 ft tidal surge waves that demolished half of our neighboring town.

If you want to be inspired, or just find a place to donate where you know that the next day, your donation will actually be put in the hands of someone who’s lost everything from the storm, please check out RAINE on facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/raine/ You can visit their main website at http://rainefoundation.com/ . They are accepting financial donations through their main website. And like I said, basically the next day, your donation will be in the hands of someone who needs it right now.

For those of you who have submitted poems for consideration in Poetry Breakfast, I don’t know when I will be getting back to reading them. It may be a week before I get back to that, or it could be a few weeks. If you don’t want to wait and wish to send your submissions elsewhere, I completely understand. Just please email me to let me know that you’ve sent them somewhere else. If you’ve already received an acceptance for your poem, it WILL still be posted on its scheduled day. Those are already scheduled and in the system.

And yes…I am asking you to donate to RAINE. And to spread the word about them to your friends. Also, I’m asking you to look at their facebook page just so you can see the amazing generosity and resilience of the people here at the Bayshore. With all the destruction around us you would think it would break your heart, but with the hundreds of people volunteering thru RAINE and the tens of thousands they are helping, it lifts your heart to a level you could never imagine. If you can’t give, just go to their facebook page and let them lift your spirits too.