In a vast world, tragedies happen every day, ones that make me want to reach through the television or the newspaper to devastated families that I don’t know. Using the tools of social media, a group of caring bloggers this week has managed to bridge the divide between caring strangers and someone in need. The widespread support from the food blogging community for one of its own is a heartwarming reminder that the best insurance in life is to be a good person.
Two Sundays ago, Brooklyn-based food writer and blogger Jennifer Perillo lost her husband and father of her two young daughters to a sudden heart attack. She posted an achingly brief message August 7 on Twitter: “He’s gone. And my heart is shattered in a million pieces.”
Two days later Jennie wrote a post “For Mikey,” reflecting on the upcoming memorial service and ending with this:
As I spend Friday reflecting on the love and life that was gone in an instant, I’d like to invite all of you to celebrate his life too. Mikey loved peanut butter cream pie. I haven’t made it in a while, and I’ve had it on my to-do list for a while now.
I kept telling myself I would make it for him tomorrow. Time has suddenly stood still, though, and I’m waiting to wake up and learn to live a new kind of normal. For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.
The food blogging community made hundreds of pies in support of Jennie.
Early this week three friends – Maggy Keet, Erika Pineda-Ghanny, AimÃ©e Wimbush-Bourque – launched Bloggers Without Borders, a nonprofit vehicle for bloggers to donate to causes they hold dear, beginning with A Fund for Jennie. Others have donated their time, expertise or homemade food to raise money through auctions on their own sites.
It is a testament to Jennie that her friends in the food blogging community have been able to ignite such an overwhelming response. It is also a testament to the fundamental generosity of the community. A year ago Erika Pineda-Ghanny of Ivory Hut, one of the founders of Bloggers Without Borders, lost all her belongings in a house fire. Her friends raised $10,000, which she used to buy a much-needed car.
There is a wonderful message in Jennie’s sad story: that in a karmic sense the best insurance is to be a good person, a generous soul, a contributor. You do this to have a good life. But an additional consequence is that if you need help, people will be there – friends and their friends and their friends.
I don’t know Jennie, but her story touches me personally. I relate to Jennie, as a wife, a mom, cooking and blogging out of love and a desire to share. I want to reach out and touch her arm, say I’m sorry, let her know she is not alone.
I was grateful to donate to A Fund for Jennie. I give with devout hope that I will never have to receive. I give with great humility and the deepest gratitude that my house was not the one struck by disaster. I give with profound sorrow for Jennie, Mikey and their girls.
There are dozens of fantastic auctions raising funds for Jennie, many of which end this weekend. Direct donations go through Bloggers Without Borders via Paypal, and I’m including a button here for anyone that would like to contribute.