Belfast artist organizes raffle to help Jersey shore

Posted Dec. 18, 2012, at 3:56 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — The national media moves on too quickly from disaster stories, Jerri Finch Holmes believes. The long-time Belfast resident knows that in the wake of superstorm Sandy, lives and homes remain devastated, especially along the New Jersey shore.

As a child in the 1950s and 1960s, Holmes spent a week every summer at her aunt’s two-room cottage in South Seaside Park, N.J., a house she remembers as “wall to wall sand.” One of eight children, Holmes said some of her siblings chose to settle in the area, so memorable were the family vacations.

Now, as public interest moves onto other issues, she wants to remind those in the Belfast area of the problems that remain and give them a chance to help. Holmes has organized a raffle to raise money for aid.

Her brother has been unable to return to his home. Her sister’s home had 44 inches of water inside, toppling the refrigerator, upending the bed and destroying family keepsakes. Another sister remembers standing in the backyard, hosing off silverware on a picnic table as Air Force 1 flew overhead.

“Power lines are still down, roads are still broken, natural gas lines aren’t working,” she said. “These people are going to need support for a very long time. People assume that everyone from the Jersey shore is wealthy and that these are second homes,” which is not the case with her siblings and many others, Holmes said.

Mold will be the next challenge for those who own houses in the affected area, she said.

Holmes has donated one of her paintings — depicting her sisters Mickie and Sharon paddling a canoe — to the raffle. Local decoy carver John Jewell has donated one of his works and yoga instructor Missy Hatch also has donated three sessions. Tickets cost $10, with all of the proceeds going to benefit South Seaside Park.

The drawing is Feb. 2.

Those who want to donate can send money to Jerri Finch, 33 Battery Road, Belfast, ME 04915 or contact her at jerri@jerrifinch.com.

“People need to know that there but for the grace of God go I,” she said.

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