The Real Housewives of New York City star, who helped victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico through her B Strong Disaster Relief program, is now aiding victims of Hurricane Florence, which is ravaging North Carolina, through her foundation.
“B Strong … we give out cash cards so they have the dignity and the freedom to purchase what they want,” Frankel, 47, told Fox Business of the people whose homes were ravaged by the storm. “But before then, when they’re trapped in their homes, and the assistance in getting out, we’re there to figure out exactly what they need. And like I said, this is different than any other disaster — every one is different. … This is more of a water situation.”
Last month, Shields was found dead at the age of 51 in his Trump Tower apartment following a suspected overdose. “It’s hard to breathe & I appreciate you giving me the space & support to try to do so,” Frankel tweeted. “It’s excruciating-sudden death is no closure & constant ?s & memories.”
Now, as Frankel dedicates her efforts to victims on the East Coast, she can’t help but think about Shields, who actively supported her and B Strong Disaster Relief prior to his death.
“He loved this part and he was a doer,” Frankel said of her late ex. “And so we would have been talking about this exactly right now. So I’m thinking of what he would have inspired me to do and say. This is for Dennis also.”
Asked if she will fly into North Carolina, Frankel said, “I think that I will. What happens is each time, you’re sitting in your house and you’re saying, ‘Okay, I guess I’m getting on a plane now.’ And each time has it’s own anxiety because you’re not sure: ‘Am I chartering a plane to get there?’ Like Puerto Rico where you couldn’t even get there. And it always happens the night before that I just say, ‘Okay, I guess I’m getting on a plane.’ I’m not even sure what I’m walking or swimming into, but I have a great support team and we do just figure it out.”
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As to why she got involved, Frankel explained, “I think because I have the nature of being a doer and a business person, I mean, this is a business also. Not meaning to make money, but it’s like a business — it’s a startup, popup every time because each disaster’s so different you say, ‘Okay, what do we have? Who’s in? Who’s going to help me?’ You have to be able to delegate and execute, be organized, move quickly. It’s like business. So because I have that ability as an entrepreneur, I realized that I had that ability as a philanthropist and the ability and the platform to raise money and now have developed trust where people will donate. Because everybody wants to get involved, they really do, but they don’t trust big charities. They want to know exactly where their money is going.”
“I know that 100 percent of what I raise goes directly to people, so I pay for my plane flights, I pay for all of my staff’s meals. I pay. I figure it out. So 100 percent goes directly to them. The cash cards is for you to go and buy whatever you need,” she said.
Frankel said those who have lost their homes and belongings as a result of natural disaster ultimately “want your help, they want your money, they want dignity and they want the cash cards so they can go, ‘Okay, let me go to this store, this restaurant. Let’s get it going again.’ “
While the reality star and Skinnygirl mogul isn’t looking for gratitude on a national level, she does wonder why President Donald Trump hasn’t made public mention of her relief efforts. (In October, PEOPLE reported that Frankel was on track to raise more than a $1 million in donations and supplies for Puerto Rico alone.)
“I did think it was interesting that Trump never said anything,” she told Glamour.
“I can’t imagine he doesn’t know because he knows me,” she added. “So he knows. Got it. I will not wait near the mailbox.”