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Monday, July 19, 2010

Dear friends and supporters,

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for your participation and interest in Restore The Gulf. Today we have taken a big step toward helping families in the New Orleans area recover from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Restore the Gulf has secured a grant that will match any funds raised up to $500! What does this mean? With the funds raised and matching grant, we will be able to reach more families this year!

With your help, Restore The Gulf will be able to  pay for the application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This means that businesses, civic organizations, and individuals will be able to make tax-deductible donations! Restore the Gulf will remain a strictly volunteer effort, and we will be able to connect concerned businesses with families on the ground faster and with the benefit of tax-deductible - on the record - donations. Our goal is to raise $500.00 by August 15th. Soon,we will be able to accept larger tax-deductible donations from businesses and individuals that will cover the costs of transporting and housing volunteers while simultaneously assisting local charities in their efforts to establish food and clothing banks before the holiday season arrives!

Please, contribute what you can. Many of you know me personally, and what started as a small mission to help out has turned into a movement. Your contribution will help deliver hope this year. September and October will be crucial to helping hundreds of people make it through the winter months and holidays. To date, RTG has done some incredible work, but only with the help of generous supporters. We volunteered over 90 hours and drove 2,500 miles in June. This month we shipped 80 pounds of food and supplies. Now we have the opportunity to make a huge impact where it counts the most.
Remember that anything you contribute NOW is worth double the impact with our generous grant! You can also contribute any items listed on our Urgent Needs Page

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for your support and encouragement!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Full Steam Ahead!

Thank you so much to the guys over at Geekadelphia for putting on a successful fundraiser. Thank you to XipWire for giving us a great new tool. We have a plan in place to go down to Louisiana with two new volunteers during the second week of July! With such a wonderful response, we can continue a very focused mission now. With your help we can bring down supplies including household supplies for families going through a very difficult transition. Remember, life as they know it has been changed forever. I am working with Arcadia University to discuss educational opportunities for young people. Restore The Gulf plans on helping families through the long waits for assistance with story time with the children, and finding out exactly what needs aren't being met, and making sure that people are not just a number. We want each and every person to be recognized for the individual they are and address their needs. We know that the mission is monumental but why not at least try? When we start with a few families, I believe that momentum will carry us onward. Faith helps me. You know, Henry Ford said, ‘Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.’ If I stopped, even for a moment to dwell on an obstacle, then I might as well give why bother? I discovered that taking a leap of faith is easy; for me, it just takes persistence and staying focused on the families that need support through this very difficult time. Thank you so much for the supplies and contributions. Thank you so much to the Pottstown Mercury as well. The mission continues on, and we look forward to sharing with you the news and progress that we plan on making in Louisiana. 

Much Love,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Restore The Gulf: Party & Fundraiser @ Tattooed Mom Next Wednesday

Hello! I can't believe it's been a little more than two weeks since we took a leap of faith! Thank you for the support. Thank you for the courage! You are all incredible for inspiring us, you  are making a difference for potentially hundreds of families in the Gulf. It's been a rough ride. We went down and identified the greatest needs. We found that the families out of work just need a leg up, and need items to help get through a tough summer as well as the holidays this year. Can you imagine what it's going to be like for most of the fishing-industry families who are out of work? We are on a mission now. Restoring the Gulf means supporting the people of the Gulf. Thanks to Eric over at, our kick off event & fundraiser will be Wednesday June 23rd from 7-10pm.

Restore The Gulf: Party & Fundraiser @ Tattooed Mom Wednesday

Geekadelphia will have a donations box set up at the door, and we’ll be accepting items for Restore the Gulf’s ‘Urgent Needs’ page. From duct tape to dry erase boards, energy efficient light bulbs to childrens’ books, they need a lot of stuff. And you can help.

We’ll be raffling off a number of items from local institutions who have been kind enough to donate items. Tickets from the Academy of Natural Sciences, National Constitution Center, Eastern State Penitentiary, and even tickets to concerts at the Mann Center for Performing Arts (what!) will be up for grabs.

We’re also raffling off a $100 gift certificate to Brave New Worlds, our favorite comic book shop in Old City, and giving away a number of titles from our good friends Quirk Books. You’ll also have an opportunity to win a piece of fine art, a print from the lovely Britt Miller. Like music? Good, cause 8static is donating a pair of tickets, as well as a copy of Philly Chip: Volume 1 and an 8static t-shirt. CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS!

A huge token of gratitude and thanks to Eric over at Geekadelphia!

Three Academy of Natural Sciences Prize Packs:
Admission to the Academy, awesome swag from the gift shop.
Three Eastern State Penitentiary Prize Packs:
Admission to Eastern State Penn, misc. swag.
National Constitution Center Tickets
Includes admission to the Ancient Rome & America exhibit
VIP Tickets to the Mann Center:
Two Pairs of Orchestra Box Tickets to Planet Earth Live! (7/29)
Two Pairs of Orchestra Box Tickets to Rufus Wainwright! (8/4)
Quirk Books Prize Packs
Copies of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, and Android Karenina! Plus totes bags, cocktail recipe books, balloons, and more!
Morris Arboretum Prize Pack
Tickets to the lovely gardens, and a History of the Arboretum book.
Gift Certificate to Brave New Worlds
A $100 gift card to Brave New Worlds, good for comics, action figures, and caressing Brian’s beard.
8static Prize Pack
Tickets to an upcoming 8static show, t-shirt, and a copy of Philly Chip: Volume 1.
Entering the raffle is easy. Just donate a dollar or two (preferably three of four), or bring in something from Restore the Gulf’s Urgent Needs page. If you bring in an item from Restore the Gulf’s Urgent Needs page, you’ll receive a Tattooed Mom discount poker chip, good for 50 cents off any drink… forever.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

There's so much work to do!

I just arrived in Pennsylvania exhausted after 20 hours and 1200 miles of open road. We're one man lighter on this trip! Chris will be working full time down in the New Orleans region as a biologist with a wildlife rescue service! We can't wait to hear from him, so keep checking in or sign up with your email address to know when we have an update. Scroll right above this blog to subscribe.

Please, take a look at our new "pages" list above our blog posts. Today, and in the near future, we will have our "urgent" needs posted here. We are planning another trip down to Louisiana, but this time we need you to get involved. Want to help and need to know how? We'll give you all the information you need... check out the "volunteer's page" and get in touch with us.

Take a look at our first go at the urgent needs list you will see on our "urgent needs page":

Immediately needed for next trip:
1. Volunteers!
2. Reliable van or vehicles
3. McDonald's cards (for families & volunteers)
4. Lowes  Gift Cards or Home Depot Gift Cards
5. Flashlights
6. Double A, C, and D batteries
7. First Aid Kits & Sun Block
8. Canned foods and 1lb rice bags
9. Peanut Butter
10. Baby Formula
11. Ensure Shakes
12. Diapers
13. Childrends Books, Games, and Clothing
14. Plastic garbage bags
15. Verizon or AT&T gift cards
16. Old Cell Phones
17. Energy Efficient Lightbulbs
18. Gift Cards to BJ's Whole Sale Club or WalMart

We NEED help setting up our office and getting grants! 

We would like to organize another group as soon as possible, but
we must  organize our effort first! Please consider loaning or giving a  loving new home to some of the following items! 
1. Digital Cameras for volunteers
2. Laptops, gently used or new
3. Dry Erase Board
4. FedEx/Kinko's gift card
5. Goggles & Gloves
6. Free event space
7. Safety Cones
8. Caution Tape
9. Reflective vests
10. Hard Hats
11. Office Chair
12. Desk (s) / Table
13. Office supplies
14. Gas Cards

Amazing Experience

As Gordon posted, I will be working as a biologist in the effort to rescue animals in the gulf. I haven't begun work yet, but I am getting used to the roads in this part of Louisiana (aka I have been officially lost for 10 hours). To the family at Catholic Charities, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to help you serve the communities of Lafitte and St. Bernard. I will forever remember what this volunteer experience meant to me. You are doing good things.

Thank you to all of our supporters, you have really made a difference for the people we helped while on our humble journey. This adventure showed us how much the people of the gulf appreciate even the smallest gesture. I hope to help Gordon coordinate more waves of volunteers to the Gulf area to help organizations like Catholic Charities. The oil will not last forever, but the spirit of teamwork through volunteering will stand the test of time. Please consider giving your time, talent or treasure to the people of the gulf. Joining the droves of people working and volunteering to restore the gulf is the right thing to do. BP is funding cleanup efforts and volunteer organizations alike, so people have the ability to make the gulf a tourist and fishing destination once again. That is why I have decided to stay here and work toward the solution.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

(video) Tough

What an incredible week in Louisiana! From experiencing the oil-covered beaches to meeting the sweetest people, each day has given us something to work hard for. When people line up at seven in the morning for a box of food and a one-hundred dollar voucher for groceries, one may think that it's just a normal part of providing aid. When I experienced first-hand what it was like to witness families with children and proud fishermen line up and literally beg, all sense of normalcy disappeared. We worked in the St.Bernard and Lafitte parishes and found that these people are tough. The families persevere because there is little else to do. They are all waiting for real assistance. You need to understand that the entire economy for hundreds of miles has stopped. The economy for thousands of people depends on the vitality of the fish and shrimping waters in the Gulf of Mexico. It is our sincere goal that we continue to provide relief wherever we can. This means supplying families with food, organizing volunteers to work with Catholic Charities, the Red Cross, United Way, and other organizations. We are also connecting people with information about how they can help with environmental issues. There are also so many ways to help with crisis management and state agencies. Just cut through the red tape! Take a look!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

(Video) Grand Isle Louisiana: Grand Inspiration

I always try to prepare myself for somewhere I've never been. I don't know why I do that, maybe it's just the planner/scheduler German blood in me. Nothing could have prepared me for the moment that we climbed up on a large sand dune on a Grand Isle Louisiana beach. Right before our very eyes a terrible scene of devastation came into view. I wanted to get a video of my reaction to share with students and our friends here online; my conscious said, "just record this moment to have forever". As we got closer to the very visible and noxious pools of oil, the thought ran through my mind that this was only the beginning. I decided to traverse the orange tubes separating the beach from the high tide mark, out of intense curiosity and sheer stupidity. I know now that the hazmat training will be essential to cleaning up hundreds--thousands of miles of crude-oil covered surfaces. We learned so much today from the agencies on the ground. Getting a straight answer about volunteer efforts on the ground proved to be unfruitful, but we did learn of many hazmat training opportunities. What's upsetting is the feeling of helplessness. On one beach on one small island, the word to describe the scene would be: frustration. 

The helicopters buzzed the shore from above, while coast guard officials and BP representatives combed the beaches stopping people like us. We just wanted to get an idea of what we are in for, but to actually see it brings about a mixture of inspiration and desperation. I can't imagine what the local residents are feeling. We can certainly sympathize, but to empathize? I promise you, it's not easy. For those who live on the island, their futures are changed forever. For those who vacation there, the promise of tranquility is purloined at least for an entire generation. 

I tried to think of words to describe the exponentially difficult task at hand dealing with the wildlife and cleanup. Difficult doesn't begin to describe the situation. Onerous perhaps? Yeah that's it, "onerous", labor intensive and troublesome. One almost has to laugh in light of Murphy's Law proving itself yet again. The truth, however, remains that out of all of the devastation comes glimmers of hope. For now we're here. We're proving that getting trained isn't hard, getting down here is possible, and there is a need. If we listened to the big new "relief" organizations, we would be heading home. Without much difficulty, one may find that giving a few days to restore the gulf isn't impossible. We came down amongst some of the first to cut through the red tape. The images we are providing detail only the beginning. As we learned, there will be opportunity to volunteer for years to come. We just found out that the real work is being done by the least likely and least publicized efforts. 

Yesterday, President Obama outlined the efforts of the response to this "uncontrolled leak" (it is NOT a spill) as consisting of the following:
  • 17,500 National Guard troops authorized for deployment. And they are certainly deployed!
  • 20,000 people are currently working to protect waters and coastlines.  We're not so sure about this.
  • 1,900 vessels are in the Gulf assisting in the clean up. Thanks to out of work fisherman.
  • 4.3 million feet of boom deployed with another 2.9 million feet of boom available, enough to stretch over 1,300 miles. My question is why there isn't 7.1 million feet of boom deployed (4.3m + the 2.9m just sitting there) with another 3 million on the way?
  • 17,500 National Guard troops authorized for deployment. And we will need them, but lets hope they get hazmat training and start scrubbing.
  • 17 staging areas across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida to rapidly defend sensitive shorelines. Okay, I get a little confused here. What do they mean by staging? And only 17? It took 2 hours and 110 miles to get to Grand Isle from New Orleans... there's roughly 850 miles of American Gulf Coast shoreline... we're going to need more than seventeen staging areas. The Grand Island staging area was overwhelmed with just the local shores! 
So while I go off on the negative, it's possible to leave you with this: Through activism and actual work on the ground, the cleanup has begun. But I must emphasize that it's only just begun. With assurance, volunteers will be needed for many months to come. Also, if you're considering working down in the gulf area, the clean-up industry is booming, and with that comes at least a glimmer of hope. 

All the best, 
Gordon                   ~Twitter @restorethegulf 

Our Trip to Grand Isle 6/5/2010

*All images exclusive property of Restore The Gulf, Gordon Rhoads

Thursday, June 3, 2010

(Video) Making the most out of a day

Day one is coming to a rapid close, and I must say that we have learned so much. We had a 12 hour crash and a slight panic from Paypal, but they saw what we were doing and actually expedited getting us up and running again!

Initially it was my understanding that we would be getting training and assignments from BP, but when I notified BP of our arrival they told me that I would be contacted when needed by, but when I talked with them 3 days ago, I was encouraged to come down. Today, if we didn't get a busy signal, we left messages or got an incredible runaround. Volunteer Louisiana won't even return our emails. While Matt and Chris were out filming and networking, I was on the phone with local churches trying to figure out where we can start working. Chris's blog goes into detail about how we encountered actual resistance from what looked like the most reputable volunteer organizations online. We found that the small-local agencies with so much more on their plates are far more equipped to deploy volunteers and respond to the overall devastation than the agencies responsible for spill response volunteers. 

On one hand I get why the volunteer effort isn't mobilized yet, but on the other hand, I would like to see more preparation taking place. We're excited to get to work, and need to show you the beautiful area that is New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. Our plans include coverage from the beaches over 2 hours away from New Orleans, but hardest hit to date. Tomorrow we will be taking part in training offered by Hands On New Orleans Through this organization we will try to cover the work being done which includes:

St. Bernard needs volunteers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00am-2:00pm.
New Orleans East needs volunteers Monday-Friday from 9:00am-4:00pm who are either bilingual or interpreters of Vietnamese.
Lafitte needs volunteers on Mondays from 8:30am-3:00pm. Port Sulphur needs volunteers Monday-Friday from 8:30am-3:00pm.

If you're in the New Orleans area and want to volunteer for the oil spill response please get in touch with Hands On New Orleans, you should give them a call: 504-310-6978      
Also, please get the word out about making a contribution. We have enough at this point to stay through Monday. We would like to stay on a rotating basis and have consistent coverage, but we can't do that without your support.

Counting My Blessings and Wishing You The Best,

Twitter: @restorethegulf

We made it safe and sound.

In 20 hours we made it 1,200 miles to our destination at the Parc St. Charles hotel in New Orleans. We are finally getting a few hours of much needed sleep. We can't believe that we're actually here especially after nearly 48 hours of non-stop planning, traveling, interviewing, and preparing efforts on the ground. Check back tomorrow afternoon for new coverage!

Please, follow us on Twitter. @restorethegulf

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Middle of the Night

Good Morning,

I'm in the bedroom going through a mental checklist that's about 1200 miles long, or about as long as it takes to get to New Orleans.

Before even getting in the car, it's been an adventure. In the past 24 hours we've put together quite a bit. This morning we spent a few hours trying to recruit people. What would you say if someone asked you to drop everything for a week and drive 1200 miles? Thank goodness Chris is coming along, he has a brain for science. I'm bummed Mike couldn't make it down this week. He's the best photographer I know. He's on speed dial though. He's just the man in case we would ever need an "emergency" photographer. I put in 2 more calls to the BP people and the United Way. Let's cross our fingers for some quick responses in the morning.

You know, I'm learning so much because I just can't stop reading the news and information about the Gulf Coast. As we speak the RSS feeds and Twitters are constantly updating with news. Today, I just can't believe that we're only just about to see the beginning of what we can all assume will be an environmental and economic disaster. So far, all I can do is imagine the situation down there. So many people loosing everything. No single person can possibly have the answer to recovery, and at this point I can't wait to help in any way I can, learn more about a part of America I've never seen before, and share with all of you the experiences along the way.

Just so everyone knows, we don't know where we will be staying for the first night yet! I know, it sounds crazy, but we're going down with hopes and prayers. I have faith that something in the way of lodging will develop. If not, I found hotels with rates under $50 a night! We have the camera equipment ready to bring you footage as well. I'm so glad that school and my students are so great. I have to thank my family, you made me crazy enough to do this. Much love and thanks to Enid, Diane, and Michael for their generosity today. I'll leave you with that tonight, with so much on my mind. Until next time!

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thank You!

We're so excited! Just now we received our first contribution of $25.00...

Just twenty five dollars can buy us over two hundred miles, a night in a youth hostel, food for several days, bottled water, goggles, cleaning supplies, and so much more!

Moments ago we sent a press release to WHYY, KYW, ABC, and NBC of Philadelphia. Any contacts that you have in Louisiana, Alabama, or Mississippi would be VERY helpful at this time.

Our email is and you can make a contribution here on our page on the right hand side. Go ahead and see just how easy it is. Look for videos to come soon! We're hoping that Mike Broschard can make it down, he's an incredible photographer. So far, we recruited another friend. So there will be at least three of us going down, hopefully four.

All the best,


Only hours after we formally launched this endeavor, we are now looking for places to stay in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities. I am banking on our faith in others.

Gordon Rhoads.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Here we go!

Welcome to Restoring the Gulf online. I'm Gordon by the way. Don't you feel that sometimes it's just not enough to talk about action? The news reports are increasingly alarming and the countless interviews of frustrated residents of the Gulf are heartbreaking, but there's something we can do about it.

We are in this together, Americans from coast to coast coming together to prove to the world that anything less than a full restoration of the Gulf is unacceptable.

On May 31st, we came up with a five step plan.

Step one: Commit to action. This has been easy so far.

Step two: Establish social networking. We're on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Blogger. That means that we can stay in touch with anyone at any time.

Step three: Reach out. Time to contact our friends, family, church organizations, volunteer organizations, experts in the field, and most importantly: small businesses. The planning must be quick, because every minute planning is a minute that we could be on the ground taking action. If you can help us, just email and ask how. We're looking for places to stay, businesses that need exposure, and media outlets who will cover our efforts.

Step four: Get to the Gulf Coast. Our goal: New Orleans. We need to establish a headquarters.

Step five: TAKE ACTION. Our goal is to reach out to be an extra pair of hands for whatever needs to be done. This includes cleaning up messes, filling sandbags, arranging paperwork for grants or relief claims, helping arrange transportation, getting businesses some much needed revenue, and raising awareness EVERY DAY. We cannot let this disaster disappear with the next news cycle.

As of this very moment we are arranging transportation, money to help support our efforts, and media/photographed coverage. We will keep you posted.

Follow us on Twitter! @restorethegulf