Photo above: A pile of debris and a boat lay near flooded and damaged houses after Hurricane Sandy on Nov. 8, 2012, on Manhattan Beach, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The losses from the devastating hurricane that swept up the East Coast in late October are so high and the damage so extensive that estimates are still a long way from final. About 8.5 million people in 10 states lost power (some reports say 21 states were affected). At the time of this writing, many are still facing the winter days without any heat, electricity or running water.
Millions of people lost the tangibles of their everyday lives—homes wiped out, businesses ravaged, places of worship annihilated, whole communities destroyed. Early estimates put property damage in the vicinity of $30 billion with added economic loss of $20 billion.
“Here in New York City, Avon’s ‘hometown,’ it is hard to calculate the impact of ‘Superstorm’ Sandy. Our LEED Gold global headquarters is intact, but our city is not,” wrote Susan Arnot Heaney, Executive Director, Corporate Responsibility, and Managing Editor of Avon’s corporate responsibility blog, one week after Hurricane Sandy left New York City, New Jersey and other areas of the northeastern United States reeling.
And the loss of life is tragic. So far, 121 individuals lost their lives when Sandy swept the Jersey Shore onto city streets and floodwaters into the subways.
Heaney wrote, “One of the most evident and visible issues in the affected area is water: too much, too little, and unsafe. Too much water in the thousands of miles of flooded cities and towns from a storm twice the size of Texas. Too little water for consumption by those in affected areas. And unsafe water left in Sandy’s wake.”
Avon posted this on Facebook, Oct. 31, just two days after Sandy made landfall: “It has been a very difficult few days here in the North East. We hope all our Avon Representatives weathered the storm and are home safe with their families.” Avon, like so many other direct selling companies with representatives, consultants and distributors in Sandy’s path wanted to make sure their people were okay. Facebook connected them with those who still had power and Internet.
Well-wishes and messages of prayer went out to those devastated. Other postings were first-hand accounts of the struggles Sandy brought to the lives and communities of Avon representatives. “New York is a mess,” Carol R. posted on Halloween. Her Brooklyn home was hard hit by Sandy. “It is so sad. No trains running. People can’t get to work. It is real bad.”
“Old Bridge, N.J. looks like a war zone, but we are lucky to have our house,” Lisa H. posted that afternoon.
“I live on Long Island. There are areas that are devastated! It is heartbreaking,” Wendy G. posted.
Joyce A. of Eatontown, N.J., was without power for the sixth day and in need of kerosene for the heater that was keeping her family warm. As a nor’easter bringing snow bore down on an already pained region, she asked that everyone, “Say a prayer for all in need.”
No doubt these sentiments, concerns and suffering are shared by thousands more, whose homes and home offices are in some cases still without power, flooded or simply non-existent.
Coming Together as a Direct Selling Family
More than 111,000 Amway Independent Business Owners are located in the affected area, as well as several employees. Sandy Spielmaker, Vice President of Sales, Amway North America, says, “Our first priority has been to reach out to determine if everyone is OK, and reports so far indicate that all are safe.”
A huge oak tree lays on top of a house in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Amway stepped out early to pool the resources of their vast network of independent business owners. They set up a matching donation program benefiting the American Red Cross on their website. Amway will match donations totaling $100,000.
“We’re committed to supporting our IBOs and employees in their lives and their businesses through this difficult time,” Spielmaker says. Some Amway orders were temporarily held at their Ada, Mich. headquarters until East Coast terminals were operating or alternatives were available.
Dove Chocolate Discoveries’ home office in Mt. Arlington, N.J., lost power in the aftermath of Sandy and closed, but staff worked remotely to keep business running smoothly. “We may have limited resources, but no shortage of commitment to providing you with the service you deserve!” the company posted on Facebook.
Distributors from Dove, as well as numerous other direct selling companies are independently raising funds to support Hurricane Sandy victims. They include: Amway, Arbonne, Cookie Lee, Creative Memories, lia sophia, Scentsy, Shaklee, The Pampered Chef, Thirty-One, Vault Denim, Wildtree and Willow House among others.
Some direct selling companies are reaching out to help feed those displaced by this natural disaster and the volunteers on the ground bringing them relief.
“Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by the hurricane storms,” Scott Schwerdt, President, Nu Skin Americas region, says. “Our company’s mission is to be a force for good in the world and we are pleased to join with our Nu Skin sales force, customers and employees to help those who are in need at this time.”
Nu Skin Enterprises donated more than $400,000 in cash and in-kind donations to the relief efforts by partnering with the charity, Feed the Children, to make sure those affected have food and hygiene supplies. The company’s VitaMeal product will be prepared and served in community shelters. Nu Skin is also collecting online donations through its Force for Good Foundation. Monies will go to identifying and funding rebuilding efforts.
Also partnering with Feed the Children is Neways with an initial donation of $100,000 in retail products. Isagenix donated 50,000 meal replacement bars and shakes, and MonaVie has donated 75,000 nutritional bars to the charity, Feeding America.
SeneGence International announced the first cause marketing effort to benefit disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims. Paired with Army Pink, a brand for women and girls committed to making a statement for peace in everyday life, the company will donate a portion of the initial proceeds from sales of its new Army Pink LipSense shade. The kiss-proof liquid lip color is $22 and monies raised will go to the American Red Cross.
No doubt there are other fundraising efforts and volunteer programs underway within the direct selling industry to help those along the East Coast who suffered the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. These are just the initiatives Direct Selling News could gather by press time. Within such a generous, relationship-based industry, we know that there will more stories of giving and even heroism within the coming weeks.