The Power of AV Good

avgood-1112I’ve always been so impressed with our industry and the people who are part of it. Being service-oriented by its very nature, our industry is comprised of people who just generally want to help others. But, what I’ve been witness to over the last few weeks has touched my heart profoundly and has been an inspiration that I hope we all can feel proud of and will inspire us to give back in the future.

No one needs to be reminded Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast over three weeks ago and the devastation the toll has taken on the people living there. For many, their lives will never be the same and it will take years to recover and rebuild.

Well, the way our industry has stepped up to try to help those affected — and particularly people who were in some of the most affected areas themselves — still blows my mind today. It’s a reminder for me about the power of people and the way people come together for the good of others in times of crisis. And how, as an industry, we can make a difference today and when the next unfortunate disaster will hit.

It’s never too late to help and you can learn how to get involved here. Long-term, we’ve partnered with the ITDRC, a non-profit IT organization that provides continuity and disaster recovery services to communities hit by disasters and we’ve added our AV skills and certifications to their volunteer database sign-up form. This is AV/IT convergence of the highest good and you can sign-up to be available to assist in a Sandy or a future disaster at the link provided above. And, to see just how awesome this group is, you can read about what they are doing here.

For our industry and in Hurricane Sandy, there are a few people who deserve amazing KUDOS for the way they responded and the efforts they made. Because of them, we were able to equip two community shelters with the needed AV gear and broadcast satellite services to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. And, it was truly an act of God and Good that made it possible. That and the power of social media. If you ever thought Twitter and Facebook were just for teenagers, you are missing a HUGE opportunity — not just for you business, but to stay involved in what is happening in the world real-time.

All of our THANKS and APPRECIATION goes out to:

JD Systems, a Staten Island-based systems integrator, spearheaded their local efforts to help their community. It was their original blog and to see how they were helping that inspired us all to get involved and want to help. In one of the hardest hit areas themselves, they immediately went into the mode of helping others, regardless of the professional and personal responsibilities they had — they jumped into action with Partners in Sound Communication to do what they could through the Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund.

At the same time, I saw on Twitter that Access Networks was working with the ITDRC to supply Wi-Fi and network gear to help outfit community shelters with internet connectivity to help victims have a way to sign up for FEMA support. This is incredible because the technical infrastructure doesn’t exist. They are using ViaSat satellite services and power generators to keep these services going. That is why it all started to come together….

Seeing this, I reached out to our WAVE partner, rAVe [Publications] to see how we may be able to help. In less than two days, rAVe had written about how to get involved, sent out a special email blast, created a special call-to-action podcast, and have continued to send out throughout these past weeks information about how our industry can get involved. They offered their resources for people to stay up-to-date about companies operations in the area and when people were back online. Because of their efforts, VuTec Corporation stepped up right away and actually produced a projection screen just for the efforts!! WOW!! And, just as incredible, Draper responded by sending second-day delivery two projection screens that literally showed up the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving!!

Kelly Perkins of Vaddio and Steve Emspak with SMW sent out emails when we were down to the wire to see if anyone could pick up the gear and deliver it to Coney Island. There were also all the AVTweeps (as they are known on Twitter) who helped spread the word and make sure people knew what was going on.

And, then. There are the unsung heroes — who without what they did, NONE of this would have happened..

Dave Silkin, principal of Long Island-based Digital Sales Group New York, and Dawn Allcott, AV marketing consultant and Women in AV, have given so much to make any of this actually happen. SERIOUSLY.

On the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving, we were still waiting for all the AV gear to come together and we didn’t have someone to take the 45-minute drive from Dave’s office to Coney Island, where Our Lady of Solace was waiting for the equipment. It was 10 a.m. Pacific Time and we had less than an hour to call in a courier service if nothing came together. That in and of itself was a long shot, because we had no one to set it up. The minutes were ticking and we still needed some equipment. Well, Dave got all the equipment and with five minutes to make a decision, Dawn stepped up to deliver it.

Now, when I say stepped up, I mean Dave loaned his equipment to the Coney Island location so they could have the temporary set-up to broadcast the parade. He essentially broke down his showroom and test environment so they had all the gear they needed. And Dawn not only offered to deliver the equipment, but she had her hubby and her 4-year-old and 1-year old enlisted in the trek. What should have taken her 45 minutes of a drive, ended up taking over THREE hours to get the equipment to Father Armando. Truly AMAZING!!

And, as Dawn was within a mile Our Lady Of Solace (after 7 p.m. East Coast Time) at this point, I still had not heard back from Father Armando to make sure someone would be there to meet her. Here I am in San Francisco thinking, she has just spent three hours to get this gear here and I don’t even KNOW if someone will be there to meet her. I felt so stressed for everyone that all I could do was sit here trying to make phone calls!! Was she going to go to a dark church? Did Father Armando even want the equipment at this point? Who was going to set it up for him? Was DISH Network there to install the services that day?!!?

The true act of God and Good was as I was speaking with Father Armando to tell him Dawn was on her way, can he meet her… someone was already waiting for her outside and knew she was coming — that she and her family had been sitting in traffic, and took the equipment off her hands right away. There is NO WAY that by the time I spoke with the Father and tried to get back in touch with Dawn to let her know, that someone could have gone down to meet her. Timeline-wise, she was at the church five minutes before I was able to reach Father Armando to let him know.

And, then there was DISH Network — without what they did, none of this would have mattered. Through their efforts and the work they did, they had technicians at both of the locations we were working with the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to install the satellite services to air the parade. I can not begin to describe how impressed I am with what they delivered and what they did deliver the parade to those truly in need. As a matter of fact, Thanksgiving morning I was troubleshooting the audio with Father Armando and DISH Network had already dispatched a technician to help make sure everything worked in time. They were seamless, they responded and went so far above the call of duty, it makes me want to cry.

There are so many people and ways our industry responded to Hurricane Sandy, that make me feel so proud to be part of your team and industry. I can not thank enough those who stepped up in spite of everything they had going on themselves to help other people in need. They have set the bar so high for us, that we can only try to live up to their amazing hearts and work. And, to truly appreciate all that we have and how quickly it can be lost.