2013-10-31 / Front Page
Friends show Love of Jersey by volunteering
Two friends are maximizing their resources to make a difference for people near and far.
Jaime Reinwald and Stefanie Flodmand, both South River residents, met when they were paired one night for a scavenger hunt at a party, and they’ve been friends ever since.
In 2011, they launched the nonprofit For the Love of Jersey and started taking on volunteer projects such as toy and food drives, but “when Sandy hit, we went into overdrive,” Reinwald said.
Since Sandy made landfall last October, the two have been helping storm victims and others in need by delivering food, cleaning supplies and gift cards to victims, helping to rebuild storm-damaged structures and working with established nonprofits to provide support, among other tasks.
“We’ll get our hands dirty, we have no problem,” Flodmand said, adding that she raises funds for their work through the sale of her photos on the website On the Pier Photography on Etsy, which features handmade items for sale.
In the borough, the friends have also brought two truckloads of school supplies to schoolchildren.
“Jaime and I both know what it’s like to have everything, and we both know what it’s like to have nothing,” Flodmand said, noting that she and Reinwald both feel a need to give back. “We both love this state. You have to help your own.”
The two have also partnered with Jersey Shore Hurricane News, a Facebook local news site, to learn where they are needed and to recruit others when the effort calls for more resources.
But not every opportunity is a perfect match.
“There [have] been times we’ve tried and it hasn’t been a fit, and that’s going to happen,” Reinwald said. But that doesn’t stop them from trying. They also try to assist with efforts that extend beyond the state lines, such as collecting items for tornado victims in Oklahoma. Making a difference in the lives of children is very important to the duo, who said they were both raised by single moms.
Reinwald said there is also an impact on her own children.
“My kids see that their mom can do anything,” she said.
This holiday season, the two friends will be at it again, as they partner with Santa’s Sandy Hands, a Beachwood-based effort to provide toys and other items for victims, Reinwald said.
They are also continuing to work with sandcastle artist Ed Jarrett as he builds the world’s tallest sandcastle in Point Pleasant Beach. Flodmand takes pictures of Jarrett’s work so he can sell the photos to raise relief funds.
The two currently post volunteer opportunities and various needs on their Facebook page. While Reinwald and Flodmand say that Facebook has been a great way for them to connect needs with volunteers, the two hope to create a website of their own in the future.
However, one thing they say won’t change is their optimistic outlook on what they do and life. Reinwald said she enjoys “knowing that I can make someone’s day just a little bit brighter.”
“No matter how bad something can be, you always have to look at the light at the end of the tunnel,” Flodmand said.
The aftermath of Sandy has had quite an impact on the pair.
“This last year has been very humbling,” Flodmand said. “I feel like I’m a better person because of it.”