The Memorial Day tornadoes that ripped through the Dayton area left a trail of damage and destruction to homes and property, certainly an unprecedented event that has brought a generous community response toward relief efforts. On behalf of the recipients of your generosity to CityHeart, I would like to give a hearty thanks to our donors, to members of the Episcopal Churches, and all those who have made a special donation to CityHeart during this time of disaster.
As promised in our appeal, we have increased our financial assistance per household to meet the immediate needs of many people directly and indirectly affected. As we anticipated, these situations are the stories being repeated from all our neighbors throughout the affected areas. I would like to share a few of these storm stories, the stories of the consequences impacting the lives of these victims. (Names have been changed for confidentiality.)
Joey came to CityHeart one afternoon just days after the storm to tell of the scary night he and his wife spent in a rental home that sustained damage. They were alright and went to spend a couple nights in a hotel, but when he went home to pick up some items the neighbors alerted him that their neighborhood was being looted. Joey then stayed at the house to protect his personal belongings and his landlords’ property. He was emphatic they did not need any more water, everyone was bringing water! He ask for much, he has work and can live in the home, so we gave him some bus passes to get back and forth to work, something to help.
Chandra is a single mother of two young children who works full time as a home health aid making $1500 a month. When the storm hit she was near enough to lose power in her apartment and was displaced for several days. The business that she works for was directly affected and closed for period of time. Two of Chandra’s clients were directly impacted and displaced from their homes. One client in Trotwood and one in Northridge, both unharmed but under alternative care, not needing her services. No work, no pay. The tornado caused Chandra temporary loss of home, food and employment. She incurred unforeseen and immediate expenses due to this hardship. She came to CityHeart asking for help with rent. Chandra has applied for FEMA aid and will qualify, but that won’t help for July. Her monthly rent is $650, which she is normally able to pay. Her landlord is giving her time to get it together, a month after the disaster and things are just getting back to “normal” for Chandra has work again now. With $100 from CityHeart added to what Chandra could pay has satisfied the landlord, allowing her more time to prevent eviction and potential homelessness. (The city certainly doesn’t need any more homeless tornado victims.) Chandra was very grateful for our help!
Stephen called CityHeart looking for food and hunger resources to feed his family of five. After losing food in the storm he was directed by one our Resource Specialists to area relief sites that were offering food and Kroger gift cards. He was not aware of those resources. He said that would help for the short term, so we also made sure he knew how to apply for replacement food stamps, and where to access his local food pantry until they were stabilized.
Annette was in a neighborhood on the edge of direct damage. Her home was spared, she lost power and food, but her biggest set back was a surge that destroyed her refrigerator and microwave. She works full time and has done her best to keep up on her normal bills, but the quarterly water bill arrived just after she paid out of pocket to replace both appliances. She was not in immediate risk of shut-off, but we agreed to help pay the bill because Annette knew she didn’t have enough money. Annette had one previous interaction with CityHeart over three years ago, but she has not needed help since that time and is confident she will be back on track when the next bill comes in three months. This was definitely a temporary circumstance and we were happy to help!
Rodney and Norma are senior citizens living on a fixed income. They were not directly affected by the storms, but their daughter and family lost their home in Trotwood. As any parent would do, they took in this family of four, quickly increasing the size of the household from two to six people. They were referred to CityHeart by one of the Trotwood churches that had set up to help victims. Rodney and Norma admitted that it may have been a poor decision to spend all of their own money on the immediate needs of the larger family, not worrying about their own upcoming expenses. But that is what families do, they take care of each other. Now they need help themselves. We paid $100 toward their DP&L bill and solved the problem the same day. Their daughter and her family will also be eligible for the FEMA assistance once it comes through.
Narita was also distraught that she could not pay her utility bill because she had helped her son who lived in the Northridge area of Harrison township. He lost both his home and his car that were directly hit by the tornado. Another example of doing what she could to do in the moment to help him without regard to herself. People just numbly responding in the first days after the storm, when everyone was still in shock, not yet aware of available resources. We helped to pay $100 to keep her service on and she was so thankful for our help.
So many people live from paycheck to paycheck and don’t have emergency funds. CityHeart has cared for these families with the compassion that we show all our visitors, and we don’t expect to hear from them again anytime soon. This is just a sampling of the “storm stories” we have encountered in the past few weeks. Many more every day. We assisted 65 families in June, dispersing $4915.79 to help alleviate the immediate impact to the lives of ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances.
Thanks again to all who have contributed to fund CityHeart’s relief efforts, and thanks be to God for being with our neighbors who have endured trauma and are overcoming each day, we are Dayton Strong!
By Kris Sexton, Executive Director