In 2005, Ocean Township resident Antonia Silver returned home from volunteering in Indonesia to address a personal issue.  Today, Silver is the person you want to know when disaster strikes close to home.

Silver is a first response disaster volunteer – and inspiration for many – for the Jersey Coast Chapter of American Red Cross, usually responding to calls for help in our area like she did recently with the building fire in Deal.

Antonia Silver is organizing a benefit concert on Sundayy for the Red Cross

I spoke with Silver last week about her life’s work as a volunteer and Rock for Relief, an all day benefit concert she is planning for Sunday (Oct. 16th).

TBP:  How did you start working with the Red Cross?

Silver:   I was helping communities in Bali and other countries repair from the 2004 tsunami when I found out I was sick with cancer and had to come back to New Jersey.

When I got healthy, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives in my backyard.  I feel that one of the reasons I survived the cancer and I am alive is so I can make a difference.  Each person I help becomes a part of me.

TBP:  I always think of the Red Cross when it comes to big disasters like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.  What do you do on a more local level?

Silver:  The Red Cross always has someone on call to help in our area.  If the phone rings at 2:30 am, I am there.

And it’s not just fires, it’s floods, any disaster in our area… a plane crash. For larger emergencies, we also bring a big truck that supports the community and the fireman and police if they are working 24 hours a day.

No disaster is more intense than another.  If one person loses their home that’s huge and as intense as it can be.  Each disaster is personal and it’s all relative.

After a fire, like the one two weeks ago in Deal, it’s hard for the families impacted to wake up in the morning and know what to do.  It’s hard to rebuild but we give them a start so they know it’s going to be okay – because it will be.   We help to rebuild their lives in the beginning.

TBP:  And the concert you have been planning with your friend Nicole Convery, who is sitting right next to you, will help raise funds to further local support.

Silver.  People think the Red Cross is a government-funded organization.  It’s not.  Rock for Relief will be all about raising funds for local disaster relief.

The winter weather brings unforeseen issues and calls for help.  Last winter was a difficult one and this concert will help the Red Cross help our neighbors in Monmouth and Ocean County.

Convery:  This is going to be a huge and amazing concert inside and outside at the Stone Pony.  The incredible Sandy Mack is leading the way getting great musicians together.  So far we have more than 20 performers – some of them will play solo, some will jam.  There’s never been a concert like this – the talent and what they plan to do – here.

Long Branch Harley Davidson has been a major supporter of this event, even donating some amazing jackets for the raffle.  We also have a big Cancun vacation, gift certificates to Marilyn Schlossbach’s restaurants and tons more.  Carolyn from the Stone Pony has been fantastic, too.

Silver:  We have a huge party planned and I promise you will have a great time.  The community here has always been generous when people need the Red Cross around the world and across our nation.  Now, we need help at home.

Rock for Relief at the Stone Pony, Sunday, Oct. 16 from 1 pm to 9 pm.  Tickets $18 advance, $20 day-of at the box office.  Click here for the concert’s Facebook page.