My mom and I have watched the myriad of Real Housewives series since the early 2000s, when the reality TV empire first debuted. Call it a guilty pleasure, but I actually find some of the women on these shows to be genuinely intelligent and influential. When they aren’t arguing over men, dinner parties and girls trips, some of these reality TV personalities truly do want make a difference and use their super-stardom to help others.
Bethenny Frankel is a former star of The Real Housewives of New York City, author, chef, business owner and talk show host. She’s also founder of B Strong, a crisis intervention initiative that provides real time emergency assistance, resources, support, and financial help to women who face crises.
In the wake of hurricane Maria, Frankel felt compelled to help and reached out to various organizations and relief efforts to offer her assistance.
"They said, 'No, we don't need your help, we've got this,'" Frankel told Buzzfeed.
Despite denials from organizations, Frankel was determined to communicate with those in need on the island, and connect with others trying to do good in Puerto Rico. Using her networking and social media skills, Frankel coordinated relief efforts with total strangers via online messages and used Twitter as a platform to rally fellow celebrities to donate.
"There are other people out there trying to help that were also rejected, so I sort of connected with the rejects, and we created this underground army of probably 25 Puerto Rican people and myself that are doing this all. I have never met them before. These aren’t my assistants, these aren't my friends — this is strangers and myself through chatrooms, working together 24 hours a day." Frankel told People.
Frankel herself was responsible for sending seven planes packed with supplies to the island, before coordinating dozens more with her newfound “army.” Frankel is now working to transport millions of pounds of relief supplies via cargo ship, and is on track to raise more than a $1 million in donations and supplies for Puerto Rico.
“As of 36 hours ago, my team of complete strangers has managed to load and distribute three planes (with four on deck) with medical supplies, food, pet care, hygiene, and transportation home for desperate, elderly, sick people,” she says. “These people worked 24/7 on relief chats with me to make this happen. Crisis and relief is all about communication and dropping zero balls. Without Twitter, this never would have happened. Twitter users literally saved babies’ lives by connecting me to pediatric hospitals allowing me to transport patients home. It is the most incredible tool in the world.”
Social media gives us the ability to connect with each other, and communication is the key to building any successful philanthropy, community or business effort. When used proactively, social media can make lasting and effective impressions on your friends, colleagues, clients, community, and in disaster situation like these, even the world.