I was sitting in the lobby of St. Peter’s hospital, knees to my chest waiting for a pizza to be delivered to share with Josh. I had just gotten off the phone with our best man, Leon, who had just informed me that there were no other organizations called “Woodward Strong” so we could move forward with our vision. I hung up the phone and sat there when an older couple approached me and asked me if I was “that firefighter’s wife”. When I said yes, the woman’s eyes filled with tears and she grabbed my hands and told me they had been praying for us since the beginning. She asked me how Josh was doing and I told her he was doing well, he was upstairs waiting for me to get the pizza. She told me she would continue to pray and her husband shook my hand and slipped me a $20 bill making a “shush” motion over his lips and mouthed “for the pizza” as he walked away. Tears filled my eyes. I was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed because we had been so well loved from the first second of our crisis. So creatively and uniquely loved in every aspect of our lives from a community near and far. I looked down at the $20 bill in my hand with the conversation of the non-profit fresh in my mind and dreamt of the day that we could pay it forward.
I want to share some of the ways in which we were inspired by our community-
Starting on day one, Josh’s department never left our side. They had 1-2 reps from the department stay at the hospital at all times. They became a strong a dependable presence. Never invading our space, just serving as a constant for support and able bodies willing to help at a moments notice. They made sure we never went hungry or without coffee. They made sure our driveways were plowed and our garbage made it to the curb every week. Just having them around brought a feeling of safety to a situation that felt so rocky.
So what’s the plan.
Step one- Show up. The same way people came and showed up for us, we will show up, sit, cry, pray, be.
Step two- fulfill any immediate needs i.e. food, childcare, lawn care, bills, cleaning, errands, etc.
Step three- train up the community, involve local businesses and churches.
Step four- help establish ongoing fundraisers and financial support for the family in need.
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