Editor's note: Maria Menounos filed this blog entry after the moving report on the Greek fires that affected her family. Watch video of her Nightly News report here.
by Maria Menounos, NBC contributor
Saturday August 25, 2007. I was on set producing a short film when I got word from my mother that Greece was on fire. I immediately went online to seek out as many details as possible. I quickly realized the magnitude of the disaster as it was the top story all over the world. My mother frantically tried to reach family in Greece while many more calls from concerned family members in the States poured in. My Uncle Taki was visiting Greece and witnessed his and my mother's village burning. He was able to save their home but unfortunately others weren't as lucky.
I immediately knew I had to be there. Most people know me for my work in entertainment news, maybe some occasional acting roles, and my dedication to my charity work. The truth is I studied journalism because I was the girl who wanted to chase the fire trucks. My heart bleeds for people during tragedies and always has. It kills me to just watch the news on television. I want to be there to help in whatever way I can. My first job was at Channel One News. It was an unbelievable opportunity to travel the world and to cover stories that were important to the world. I visited an impoverished South Africa and covered the Aids epidemic. I visited El Salvador the day after being ravaged by a massive earthquake. There, I not only reported on it, I dug in and assisted however I could. I made sandwiches for rescue workers, and tried to comfort families who lost loved ones. Because I speak Spanish, the people of San Salvador begged me to contact their families in Miami and other places to let them know they were alive. And so I did. This is why I love what I do.
I know its tough to listen to the news. It can get depressing. I knew I could be the difference between people caring about this disaster in Greece, and them overlooking it. I knew I had an advantage being Greek and speaking the language. I also have my family there to help in any way they could. I got the call from my Executive Producer Jim Bell and within three hours I was on a plane to Greece to cover the tragedy for "the Today Show."
Photo: Looking at what's left. Maria with her family in Greece after the fires. Click photo to watch video.