I attended mass at 11:00AM with my mother at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Lakehurst. Father Bernie, the pastor, spoke for a few minutes before mass began and described how the church had been employed as a makeshift shelter and had accepted donations of clothing, food, and other needed items. The church is still accepting donations which workers from the Red Cross are delivering to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Father Bernie’s message was quite appropriate as the Gospel reading explained that essentially, there are two rules one must follow to enter the Kingdom of Heaven: 1) love God with one’s entire being and 2) to love one’s neighbor as one loves one’s self. While not everyone shares similar religious beliefs, the latter half is pretty much universally accepted as a golden rule. Everyone can agree it is important to care for neighbors because everyone is a member of the brotherhood of man and this life is a remarkably long trip to make alone.
The message weighed on my mind as I met my friend Kalie for a brainstorming session at a local restaurant. Kalie went to school for marketing and is vivacious, intelligent, and loyal. Naturally, I enlisted her in assisting me to get the word out about my debut novel Her Beautiful Monster and to drive sales. We both agreed that word of mouth is the greatest tool currently at our disposal and that generating a local fan base is crucial. We swapped names of local, friendly musicians and I spoke of Melanie Wagner.
I have known Melanie since the fifth grade, but we did not become close until high school and into college when we decided to live together. One night during our freshman year, Melanie was secretly playing guitar and singing while I was in the shower. She was not expecting me to emerge from the bathroom when I did and I caught her and her incredible talent. We find ourselves three years later and Melanie is a part of a duo that plays out regularly at various, local venues. She has released an album and a music video. I am truly in awe of her because she is living out her dreams. She inspires me on a daily basis and I am honored to be able to call her a dear friend. I would be remiss if I did not encourage anyone reading this to give her music a listen and support her passion, as she has done for me.
Local artists NEED to support local artists, just as local citizens need to support local citizens. That being said, below is a link and brief explanation to an organization doing its best to restore the Jersey Shore through supporting local businesses. Every little bit helps. Please do what you can for New Jersey, the Garden State, my home.
Our goal is for everyone affected by the hurricane to use local businesses for replacement purchases in order to put some money back into our town’s economy. We all need to come together during this time of need and support those around us.