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Joseph Walker: Being at the right place, at the right time, on the right mission

Published: Friday, Nov. 2 2012 5:37 p.m. MDT

Commuters board a New York Waterway ferry bound for Midtown Manhattan at the 14th Street pier Thursday Nov. 1, 2012 in Hoboken, N.J.

Associated Press

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Adam and Andrea picked a great time to move to New York City.

No, really. They did.

Never mind that they moved into town just a few days before Superstorm Sandy did. Forget that the much-anticipated audition, the one that would give Adam the opportunity to showcase his considerable talents for an array of Broadway agents and talent scouts, was canceled due to weather. And pay no attention to the 2-year-old bouncing around their Brooklyn sublet, frustrated and cranky and unable to understand why he can't go outside and play.

Evidently, superstorms don't mean much when you are 2 and your chubby little legs are aching to run.

For Adam and Andrea, the timing was perfect.

"This is where we belong right now," Andrea said the morning after weathering — literally — the brunt of the storm.

"This is home. And when you're home, you take what you get."

At least, as far as the weather is concerned.

Although Sandy forced the family indoors for a big chunk of two days while wind and debris swirled through their new neighborhood, it also provided some extraordinary opportunities for them to meet their neighbors by serving them.

For example, before the storm hit, the family went for a walk.

"We knew we'd be cooped up for a while," Andrea said. "We thought we should get some outside time while we could."

While they were walking, they noticed a woman struggling with a huge load of emergency supplies — food, water, batteries, candles — that she was slowly, painstakingly moving from the market to her apartment.

She had three large piles of supplies, and she would move one pile at a time. She'd walk 15 or 20 feet with a pile of stuff, set it down, then go back and get another pile and move it to the same place, then go back and get the other one.

"At the rate she was going, the hurricane was going to hit before she got all of her supplies up to her apartment," Andrea said.

"Since we were already set, we figured it would be a good chance to get to know a neighbor."

So she and Adam each scooped up a pile of supplies and they helped the woman get everything home.

They had a good time getting acquainted with her — she is from the Caribbean, and Adam and Andrea loved listening to her thick, rich accent.

When the storm hit later that night, they felt a little less isolated because they had a friend just a few buildings away.

In Sandy's aftermath, there have been dozens of reports of selfless acts of service, as residents have reached out to friends, neighbors and complete strangers in their time of need.

NBC reported on a group of military veterans who plunged into the murky floodwaters to provide service and assistance to panicked homeowners at the height of the storm.

When they heard about a man who had climbed into his attic to escape the rising tide, they searched through deep water and darkness until they found him and his dog trapped in a crawl space.

They were able to rescue them and reunite them with the man's wife at a hurricane shelter.

Peter Meijer, one of the veterans, said it reminded him of his tour of duty in Iraq: "The right place at the right time with the right mission."

Other news reports have spoken of church groups that have been reclaiming neighborhoods, moving trees out of roadways, hauling furniture and carpets out of flood-ravaged homes and giving hope and comfort to frightened, disconsolate victims.

And still other reports have focused on individual citizens who have provided meaningful service to neighbors, often leaving their own damaged property to help others less fortunate than they.

Serving others when you are in need of service yourself is, to me, a sign of greatness.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve."

To read more by Joseph B. Walker, please go to www.josephbwalker.com. Email: jwalker@desnews.com

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