MIAMI - When local officials called for help from the "cavalry" in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, they were looking for federal help.
But what came first was an outpouring of support from within South Florida, our own neighbors banding together to get through the crisis.
And from that, Neighbors 4 Neighbors was born, changing countless lives in the three decades since.
The mission of Neighbors 4 Neighbors is to connect those in need with those who can help.
"I lived through Hurricane Andrew. I lived in Kendall. And I remember as soon as we got a generator and getting the TV running and then watching literally the inception of this organization," said Katy Meagher, Executive Director of Neighbors 4 Neighbors.
"It showed that the power of media is so important to get the message out and what we can do with it. We've been able to take what was just a relief effort at the time and turn it into 30-year organization and that's really special."
Back then, it was called Neighbors Helping Neighbors and a simple phone bank connected those in need with those who could help thanks to the power of TV and the community's generosity.
After Andrew, Neighbors 4 Neighbors evolved into a resource for people facing everyday crises from food insecurity to holiday help.
"We're not tied to any one cause. So we're able to step in wherever that need is," Meagher explained.
And the need has been great.
In 30 years, Neighbors 4 Neighbors has:
- Stepped in with a million dollars worth of disaster assistance after Hurricanes Andrew, Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Dorian along with the Haiti earthquakes in 2010 and 2021.
- Directed more than $1.5 million for covid relief and recovery.
- Raised more than $310,000 for Surfside building collapse victims.
- Handed out 50,000 backpacks filled with school supplies and uniforms.
- Made the holidays brighter for 30,000 families with more than $9 million in gifts through its Adopt A Family program.
But none of that would be possible without you, our CBS 4 viewers who continually open your hearts when your neighbors need it most.
"Neighbors 4 Neighbors doesn't exist anywhere else in the country. This partnership between a television station and a non-profit is absolutely unique," Meagher said.
"People ask 'How do you do that?' Well, we're sisters, we're cousins we're best friends and we know this is really powerful and works really well."
And here's how critical help from Neighbors is, especially after a storm.
Meagher says they're still offering to support connected to losses and damage from Hurricane Irma 5 years ago.
"We can make a difference so easily," Meagher said. "People just need the opportunity. They need to know whether they can financially assist or physically assist by volunteering or donating goods or giving of their time and talents. We have basically the whole platform for them to fill that need at any given time from a small thing to a huge thing like a storm.
For more information and to find out how you can help, visit Neighbors4Neighbors.org.
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