Imagine falling from the sky and landing flat on your back with nothing to your name except for the clothes ON YOUR BACK.
That is the feeling that Tom could best describe when he learned that his house had caught fire and he would be unable to return to it in the way in which he had left it that morning before going to work. It was around 2:00 PM on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 when his wife Jean had called to inform him that the house was on fire. She had arrived back at the house with their youngest daughter, Stacey, who at the time was four years old, only to realize that it was on fire and immediately called the fire department.
The fire (which had started in the basement) had managed to make its way through the house destroying nearly everything the family of five had owned and leaving them completely homeless. Having nowhere to go, they had to rent a hotel for the night. Obviously, they had no spare clothes, no pajamas, not even a toothbrush with which to brush their teeth.
For the first couple of weeks, Tom and Jean were living out of a hotel with their three children, Jessica (12), Franklin (9), and Stacey who was only four years old. The fire was determined to be a “no fault” accident. However, that did nothing to ease the pain and suffering which the family had to endure.
Their home was torn down in June, 2005 and they were finally able to move into their new home in February, 2006. For nearly eighteen months, they were without a place they could call “home.”
In the meantime, they had managed to secure a rental home that needed a complete “overhaul.” The house was bare. Tom had to go through the process of negotiating with the insurance company to receive funds in order to rent everything from beds and couches all the way down to the silverware! Besides dealing with the anguish of losing a home and every personal belonging, the kids still had to attend school and both Tom and Jean still had to go to work every day!
Thankfully, through the support of the town and loved ones, this family of five managed to make it through the crisis.
As Tom said, “the most powerful message he got from this is that you don’t know who is going to help you until you need it.”