No story in 2012 hit Viacommunity harder than Hurricane Sandy. From Connecticut to the Rockaways and Staten Island, and across the entire state of New Jersey, the storm disrupted the lives of more than 4,000 Viacom employees and hundreds of thousands of their neighbors. It destroyed homes, crippled businesses and wiped out memories.
“When I went back to Seaside Heights, I didn’t know how to react when people told me they’d lost everything. Grown men were crying right next to me. What can you say to somebody who just lost their entire life?”
Vinny Guadagnino, Jersey Shore cast member, on visiting the community where the show was set
The scenes of devastation and misery left us speechless at times. But they also drove us to get involved and to help those whose lives had been overturned.
We responded to the disaster as a company. Viacom immediately committed $1 million to relief and restoration efforts, with half of that amount going to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the remaining $500,000 given to local organizations throughout the region. Ten of those local organizations were chosen by our employees to receive $10,000 from Viacom through the Viacommunity 10 for 10 program.
We stepped up as individuals too. The company provided much-needed assistance to fellow employees whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the storm. Through the Viacommunity Employee Relief Program, we helped secure temporary housing for victims, arranged transportation, set up child care and consulted on legal and insurance issues.
Viacom has committed $1 million to Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery efforts.
And Viacom’s networks and properties pitched in to help and got audiences across America involved. MTV aired Restore the Shore, a fundraising special benefiting Architecture for Humanity, the nonprofit group that is helping rebuild the famed boardwalk, local businesses and homes in Seaside Heights. VH1 and the cast of Mob Wives worked with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation to help restore ravaged areas of Staten Island and New Jersey. BET joined forces with the Red Hook Initiative to revive Red Hook, Brooklyn. Nickelodeon and its longtime partner, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, supported kids and families affected by Sandy. Comedy Central and TV Land both aided fundraising efforts by the American Red Cross — Comedy Central with PSAs, crawls and online calls to action, and TV Land with on-air graphics and a special online video featuring the cast of Hot in Cleveland. The cast and crew of the Paramount film Noah organized a coat drive and used their catering trucks to serve hot meals at community centers and hurricane shelters. And Spike recruited Team Rubicon to enlist military veterans to work on relief efforts.
Our response to Hurricane Sandy was a team effort. But just as every team has a most valuable player, Viacom has a member who truly stands out. That is Sean Moran, whose tireless efforts to help the citizens of decimated Sea Bright, New Jersey, included physical labor, political lobbying, fundraising, documentary filmmaking and, in response to a heartfelt video message by a young fan, the development of a private performance by the band Train for residents and first responders. The concert was filmed by VH1 for “Christmas in Sea Bright,” a series of vignettes to raise awareness for the local nonprofit Sea Bright Rising.
“I live in Rumson, which is right across the bay from Sea Bright,” said Sean, who won the first annual Viacommunity Award. “I know that town, and I know the hardworking people who live there. There was no way I wasn’t going to help.”