Flood Victims Receive Help from Far-Away “Neighbors”

Woman Entrepreneur Organizes Community Support

When too much water arrives too quickly in one place, you have a flood. That’s exactly what happened at 7:15 Friday morning, September 14, when Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, a waterfront community adjacent to Wilmington, NC.

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But that was weeks ago, and those flood stories moved to the back burner on our evening news reports. What hasn’t moved as quickly is the water. There are still areas that are impassable. Most importantly, there are still thousands of people who have lost everything and are still struggling with day-to-day survival. And, Hurricane Michael hit the already water-saturated area as a tropical storm this week.

One woman who didn’t forget is Shannon Miles, a wife, mother of four, business owner, and community advocate.

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When friends who live in Wilmington gave her an update on the difficult conditions many families were still dealing with, Miles decided to act. Using the social media network, she’s developed through her social media & e-marketing business (SMiles Media), Miles put out a “call for action” to her family, friends, neighbors, her children’s schools, and community businesses requesting donations of the basic necessities. 

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Miles was hoping she would collect enough donations to fill her family’s van for the drive down to Wilmington. She wasn’t prepared for the outpouring of offers, large and small, from across southern Maryland. The boxes kept coming and by the time Miles piled her four girls, who helped pack and mark boxes, into the van for the trip south, they had added a trailer to the truck.

Working with her friend and former Southern Maryland neighbor, Jacqueline Bass, vice-president of communications for the Junior League of Wilmington, Miles was put in touch with Pender Pediatric Therapy (speech and language pathology) in Burgaw, NC. The facility serves as a collection point for donations destined for Pender County. This area, with children still out of school, had not benefited as much from the first round of recovery efforts. Miles delivered her collected donations over the Columbus Day holiday.

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When asked what she thought of all the support being offered, Miles said, “I am truly grateful to live in such an amazing community.” 

“While we can’t help everyone with one donation, at least the folks in NC will know they have not been forgotten and there are people who still care enough to help their neighbors, even if they’re a few states away,” Miles added.

Shannon Miles not only helped victims of the hurricane, she set a good example for her children and, through her actions, reminded the rest of us to ask “What can I do to help?”

Note: Shannon Miles and Jacqueline Bass are members of the B&G Educational Innovations, LLC & ReaLifeSim, LLC teams.

James Benson, Chief Communications Officer

James Benson is a career public relations executive with over 38 years’ experience communicating with diverse audiences in a wide variety of venues. A retired Air Force officer, he spent the latter half of his Air Force career as a public affairs officer enjoying a series of one-of-a-kind positions with equally unique communication challenges. From arranging press conferences, to producing news and training videos, to explaining research, development and contracting issues to the media, he enjoyed tuning in to each audience to ensure the message was received and understood. As the marketing director of a mid-sized hospital, Mr. Benson directed the advertising and promotion of membership and referral programs and community health fairs, conducted outreach efforts to rural health care clinics and community education programs, created a trade show display and produced and hosted a radio health program. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mr. Benson served as a senior public affairs executive responding to media requests, preparing senior officials and subject matter experts for media interviews, hosting a magazine-style television program with benefit information for Veterans and providing emcee support for numerous department and public ceremonies and special events. As an adjunct professor, Mr. Benson has taught classes in communications for the past 10 years. Currently, Mr. Benson is providing strategic communications, media relations and marketing support to B & G Educational Innovations, LLC, makers of ReaLifeSim clinical simulation training products