With Christmas stress peaking and a seemingly never ending onslaught of bad news, you might feel like just crawling under the covers and giving up.
After all, how can one person really make any of that all better?
But Danville Realtor Mary Jane St. Jean wants to try. So she single-handedly set out to find one family to help almost 3,000 miles away in the midst of the Hurricane Sandy devastation.
"We can't necessarily change the world, but we could change the world for one family," she said of her project to raise money for a family from Breezy Point, N.Y.
What's more, St. Jean hopes sharing this story will encourage other communities to adopt a family of their own.
"The hurricane is over and the news reports have moved on to the next thing, but so many people are left to clean up the mess and are trying to recover," St. Jean said.
Here's the story of the Stromgreen family, which she found with the help of a family member who lives nearby, in their own words:
My name is Kate, my husband Tim and I have 4 wonderful sons, 3 of them are still home with us in Breezy Point, NY. My oldest son Brian just finished four years in the military and now resides in Colorado. My next son Sean is a junior at Iona College, followed by my son Conor, who is a freshman at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC. Our “baby” Aidan, now 14, is a freshman at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, NY. My husband is retired from the NYC Dept. of Corrections, where he worked as a correction officer/captain for 27 years. He is now a Public Safety Officer at St. John’s University in Queens, NY. I have been an employee of Sanford C Bernstein/Alliance Bernstein for the last 25 years, working in global operations.
We have been very fortunate to live and to have raised our family in Breezy. It has been such an amazing place for my children to grow up in! Unfortunately our beloved community has been devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Although many folks have been hit much harder than my family, we have suffered a great deal of damage. Both our first floor and basement have been destroyed. We also lost our entire first floor, all appliances, all furniture, and personal possessions.
We had to remove our kitchen cabinets, all flooring, bathroom cabinets and a gas fireplace which was ruined as well. The content of the basement, which included our boiler/hot water heater and everything in storage are gone. The other issue we have run into is a problem with mold. Although we had pumped the water out of our basement several times, it kept filling up because of the water tables, unfortunately the dampness created a significant mold problem. We just found out, the mold treatment, is not covered by insurance. We also lost 3 cars.
In regards to the mortgage, the bank has agreed to defer our payments for 3 months, which is helpful now that we are paying rent. FEMA does help out with the rent, but we are not sure for how long. Also, the first month required a deposit, broker fee and the first month rent! Breezy Point charges a monthly maintenance fee which is still due. Another big issue for us is our dogs. Until this week we were unable to find an apartment that is pet friendly so we have been boarding our dogs. This is a huge expense! We have 2 dogs and it is approximately 70/day for boarding.
Thank you so much for your kind thoughts (it's) such a tough time for so many folks. Although this has been such a difficult time for my family, friends and our community, it has meant the world to us that there are amazing, kind people, that are thinking of us and so willing to help us.
To view a video slideshow of the Stromgreen's community, click here. Donations can be made to:
Mary Jane St. Jean/ FBO Adopt a Sandy Family
C/O First Republic Bank
1400 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-9721
Checks can also be dropped off at St. Jean's agency, Empire Realty Associates. For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.