Wednesday, September 14, 2005

From Devastation to Celebration

Usually, when the eyes of the world are on Celebration, it's because of something negative. From the early school and construction problems to the present-day Stepford reputation and internal struggles, there certainly is enough turmoil. But buried beneath the outer conflict is an inner community of warmth and caring. No matter how much the residents battle, they're always ready to pull together to help someone in need.

One of the most acute demonstrations of this warmth is going on right now. Yesterday, one of our residents, who is housing 30 Hurricane Katrina refugees, posted a message on the community intranet about a young couple who lost everything (home, car, personal items) in the New Orleans flooding. Despite the turmoil, they are going ahead with their plans to marry. Since they literally fled with nothing, they were planning a simple ceremony on the steps in front of the lake in downtown Celebration.

One of the original cornerstones of Celebration is Technology, and its most tangible manifestation is the popularity of the Front Porch intranet. Within less than half an hour, the first resident stepped forward with a donation (a talented local photographer who offered to do the wedding photos). Soon, there were offers of babysitting for the couple's son, a "limo" ride (in an electric vehicle), music, cake, food, drinks, a honeymoon room at Disney World, videotaping, hair styling, manicure, pedicure, a dress, a wedding arch, a horse-drawn carriage, gifts from local businesses...the list goes on and on. Even though we're eight miles from the front gates of the Magic Kingdom, a real-life fairy tale is definitely unfolding.

By tonight, I suspect that the discussion thread will have over 100 responses. As of right now, it's nearing 80. At first, the offers were somewhat scattershot, but now things are getting organized, and the plans are solidifying nicely.

It's impossible to feel the full impact of this outpouring of generosity without reading the entire thread. I get goosebumps every time I go through it. But here are a few selected clips:

The Post That Started It All
Wedding downtown on Friday for Hurricane displaced family...

Hello all....

Some of you may know I am housing several people in my home from New Orleans. One couple was engaged and going to get married later this year. Well that was before Katrina. After losing their Home (was in St. Bernard), one of their Cars and all personal artifacts but they can still see light at the end of the Tunnel.

They will be getting Married this Friday at the Steps to the Lake at the end of Market Street at 6:30 PM.

Perhaps some might want to stop by and maybe even bring a gift or perhaps well wishes.... As they literally have nothing, the odds of duplicate gifts does not exist...

The First Offer, Posted Less Than Half An Hour Later
I would love to donate my photography for their wedding, if they'll have me.
Please call me, or have them call me...
I'd be more than happy to provide an entire album for them.
Hope to hear from you soon

p.s. Maybe they can take a look at my web-album gallery to decide if they'd like my services.

Other Misc. Snippets
"I hope the whole town shows up to give this couple a wedding to remember!"

"I just spoke to the bride-to-be... she's LOVELY! They lost EVERYTHING, including their own pictures. I cannot wait to give them photos of new happier memories.
Come on guys, let's give them a wedding of a lifetime!"

"This kind of feels like the making of Cinderella..."

"The Spirit of Celebration is alive and well...."

"Oh this is so awesome!! To be involved with giving them awesome memories to ease the horrors they must have seen back at their home!"

"We started with a small wedding at the lake.............I love this town!!!!!!!!!!"

"I am in awe of the generosity of some of the people who have posted so far. WOW!"

"I'm reading and crying over here..."

" I read this post I also cried....we are so blessed to live in this community where each of us makes available our gifts and talents to help neighbors in need."

Celebration will always be thought of as the "Disney Town," but we're so much more. We're a community in the truest sense of the word, willing to help our neighbors whether they're from next door or from another state. That's why I never want to live anywhere else.

Learn more about Celebration on my website:


Anonymous said...

Just read the blog.......very well put....we are a caring community that reaches out to help....I believe this is the heart and soul of our community. We are blessed to be here.

Two4Disney said...

What a wonderful story! I really envy the intranet that your community has. We almost bought into a certain community here in Florida just for that but ended up buying in one without any real community communication tool. With so many transplants, it must be a wonderful thing to have.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god...i love Celebrtation, Florida i want to move here!