Exactly one year ago today a line of severe storms, accompanied by several tornadoes, terrorized the Midwest. One of these storms passed through the town of Washington, Illinois, where my sister, Sara, and her family - husband Jeff, daughter Lily, and son Carter - live and work. Their lives were spared, but they lost their home, their cars, and nearly everything they owned.
The following day I used Chasing Roots to update family members and friends on what had taken place, but also to ask for help. And help you did. From the monetary and in-kind donations to the phone calls, texts, emails, and Facebook messages to the sincerest offers to help in any way… I was - and continue to be - so tremendously humbled by the outpouring of support we received on Sara and Jeff's behalf.
You can read a quick summary and find links to all of the tornado-related posts here.
There is one particular family I want to thank publicly. A family whose members knew Sara and Jeff prior to November 17th, 2013, though not well. A family for whom the possibility of uncomfortable encounters and additional expenses and a dramatic change in lifestyle mattered less than the fact that another family in their community needed help. A family who on November 18th, 2013 - just one day after the tornado stole nearly everything from so many Washington residents - opened their home and welcomed Sara, Jeff, Lily, and Carter into their lives.
Sara, Jeff, and their children lived with Shelley, John, and their children for a full year, until last week when they moved into their new house on their old lot. How can you adequately thank someone for such a generous gift? I suppose the best - and perhaps the only - way is to simply say the words.
So thank you, Shelly, John, Jaclyn, Anna, and Joe. For opening your home and your hearts, for making my family feel like your family, for taking care of them in a way that I could not. I am eternally grateful.
And thank you, for listening and responding and helping pick up the pieces. Because of your help, Sara and Jeff can label this year a good one, despite the challenges endured.
I thought you might like to see Sara and Jeff's new house, built Washington Strong.
Instead of captions, from top to bottom and left to right: front view, living room, kitchen, master bedroom, Carter's bedroom (if you look closely you can see his little hand waving goodnight, Lily and Carter's playroom, dining room, bathroom, Lily's bedroom, close-up of the fireplace.
Home again, home again, jiggity jig.