Monday, September 27, 2004

Out of the Bad There is Always Some Good

Seems to me that if the hurricanes don't stop ravaging Florida soon, everyone in the state will be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This year, there hasn't been time to recover from one hurricane emergency before the next one is upon us.

Celebration has fared much better than other areas of the state. I thank God and the new, solid, hurricane-code construction for that. I suppose that being inland has helped somewhat, too, although not as much as popular belief would dictate. Never again will I believe that anywhere in Florida is safe from the brunt of the destruction...not after driving through post-Charley Kissimmee and seeing some buildings without roofs while others were literally flattened.

I'm not sure how much stress the average human being can take. One hurricane threat in a season is management, but two or three? And, in some areas, four in one year?! It has left many people shell shocked and dazed; they thought they'd be able to salvage something out of their damaged homes until the next storm, and the next, came along to finish off what they still had.

Sadly, situations like this can bring out the worst in some people. You could see it in the crowds fighting over supplies at grocery stores and Home Depots. People were willing to trample others for that last piece of plywood or a roll of duct tape. After the storms, the looters came skittering out of their slimy holes to compound the human misery.

But out of misfortunate arises the acts of kindness that give you faith in your fellow human beings. I'd like to share the tale of a person who really exemplifies that kindness. There has been so much negative news that I think we can all use some positive, uplifting stories.

This one is about a woman named Shirley, my wonderful friend in Cocoa Beach, who is truly an angel on earth. She owns a floral and gift basket shop (if you've ever looking to buy a gift basket, visit her website at and I promise you won't be disappointed). Not only has her business been negatively impacted by the hurricanes, and the subsequent disruption of cruise schedules (much of her business is making gift baskets for people on the ships), but both her home and store have been damaged in the storms.

But in each hurricane, this selfless woman has worried more about others, with no thought for her own welfare. Click here for an article from Port Canaveral magazine to read about one such incident.

When the storms come, she looks in on elderly neighbors, even though she is getting on in years herself. And, most amazing and admirable of all, she helps out total strangers too, even when she is in the midst of the danger. During the hurricanes, she placed an offer on a popular Disney Cruise Line discussion board to assist displaced cruisers, and even posted her personal cell phone number. She invited anyone in need to call! Quite a generous offer, especially when placed on a public forum, but that's just the kind of person she is. I think of her has my grandmother, and so do dozens of other people who have been blessed with the opportunity of getting to know her. Click here to see a photo of this angelic woman and her wonderful husband, Norm.

I know of many times that Shirley has assisted strangers in need, even before the hurricanes; she is one of the most genuinely good-hearted people I know. She helps others selflessly, with no thought of reward other than the warm feeling that comes from doing good deeds. When I think of looters and that ilk, it makes me fear for the future of the human race. But then I think of people like Shirley, who are always there for others, and I know that there is some hope for us after all.

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