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A Message of Concern and Hope

Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get worse, two major un-COVID-related disasters reared their ugly heads: first, devastating wildfires totaling more than 7,000 square miles blazed across the western U.S., killing at least 35 people, destroying homes and businesses, and forcing mass evacuations in multiple states, including California, Washington and Oregon. As of press time, many were ongoing.

Secondly, category 4 Hurricane Laura, the tenth-strongest U.S. hurricane by windspeed on record, made landfall near peak intensity in Cameron, La., on August 27. Collectively Laura caused the deaths of at least 71 people and inflicted an estimated $8.9 billion in damage, the majority concentrated on southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas.

Both are tragedies that our nation, still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, definitely didn’t need. They have devastated countless families, homes and businesses at a time when many felt worn down and least equipped to deal with it.

Our thoughts and prayers at VOWS remain with everyone impacted.

If there is a silver lining, it is this: disasters and crises often bring out the best in people. We saw it in the early days of coronavirus, where people rushed to make and donate masks, run errands or otherwise assist an immune-compromised neighbor in need. And, although stories are just beginning to emerge, we see it now.

One prominent example: The National Bridal Retailers Association is spearheading a national network of stores to assist Vows by Victoria in Lake Charles, La., which was devastated by Hurricane Laura.

The association has been working to identify dresses needed and encouraging stores to pull from inventory to help replace gowns lost to the storm, and many of you have responded enthusiastically, eager to help. Although it will take the store’s owner, Victoria Huber, a few weeks to assess her business needs, her primary concern in the meantime has been helping her community, not herself. Victoria has been working tirelessly alongside First Pentecostal Church in Lake Charles to collect and distribute much-needed supplies to those impacted by Hurricane Laura.

To assist, the NBRA created an Amazon Wish List based on requests from First Pentecostal Church. You can purchase items to donate starting as low as $5; they will be delivered directly to the church and distributed to those in need.

https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/FFGIZHJH3A7J/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_2?_encoding=UTF8&type=wishlist

This is one story we are familiar with, but every day, in every community, there are others. It has always inspired me how, in difficult times, people come together to lift each other up. It is like an up-close-and-personal look at the best of humanity.

Throughout the years, we’ve spoken to many boutiques that have dealt with natural disasters and other acts of God but bounced back stronger than ever. One of the reasons for this is that the rebuilding process (sometimes literal, other times internally) gave them an opportunity to make changes to their business that they’d been wanting to try for a while but didn’t feel they were in the position to do. It’s like that saying: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

A story in our Nov/Dec 2017 issue profiled four boutiques that have specifically been impacted by hurricanes, and as I went back to reread it, I was struck by the perseverance of these storeowners, as well as their tips for preparing for and dealing with a crisis. It’s a good read for any boutique, and we are currently featuring it on our website for easy access.

Although there has been a lot of darkness this year, moving forward I am optimistic.

It’s like the American poet Walt Whitman says:

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.”

There are brighter days ahead!

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