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Hearing how people respond to families in crisis never fails to amaze me.

Over the years I have written many stories about the community’s response to a need for help. But no matter how many I heard, they always warm my heart and bless my soul.

I have known Jon and Peg Reese since high school. They both came from generations of farmers, fell in love and eventually married and became the third generation to own the Reese family farm.

The farm is now owned by the fourth generation, Peg and Jon’s son, David, and their daughter, Jonele Reese Kinkade. Peg and Jon are still involved, though, as are the fifth generation — David’s kids and Jonele’s kids.

Peg and Jon’s two other children are not involved in the farm. Jill lives in North Carolina and Julie lives in California.

After a tornado struck the Reese farm recently, the family was extremely grateful that no one was injured, but there remains a real mess.

That’s when help began to arrive — from the Cochranton Volunteer Fire Department (which actually had been dispatched for a semi-tractor trailer overturned on the road near the farm).

When the crew arrived, members realized that a tornado had struck and went into action. Other trained emergency persons soon arrived and the work began.

The tornado struck after noon and by 4 p.m. Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative Association had restored power and Jonele could do the milking on schedule.

From there, the list goes on and on with the names of people and groups who saw a need and stepped up. Debris was everywhere, so cub scouts walked the fields, picking it up. Others brought lots of food, not just for the Reese family, but for all those who were helping restore some semblance of order to the farm.

Each person seemed to realize what needed to be done and just did it.

The Rose family, who have been friends with Jonele and David for years, delivered bales of hay to customers — taking that off the long list of things that needed to be done.

It wasn’t just friends and family who showed up to help — but strangers who saw a need and wanted to help.

That’s the beauty of mankind — the silver lining in a crisis — seeing and hearing about all the good things people are doing to help others.

While I have mentioned some of those who helped, of course, I have not mentioned everyone, but I know the Reese family appreciates all that has been done on their behalf, the outpouring of love and support from the community.

Peg mentioned that support came from everywhere — including members of the Class of 1961 of Conneaut Lake High School in which she and Jon graduated. 

It reminds us we can all make a difference in our own way.

Teri Rose posted on Facebook, “I like seeing people get dirty and Get ‘R’ Done.”

How true that is — farm work can be dirty, but farmers and friends aren’t afraid of a little bit of dirt.

Peg Reese reminded me, though, of my other part of the response. “Prayers and cares,” she said, are what helps them weather their latest storm in life.

Both Teri and Peg are right. It truly is amazing the number of people showing up to “get dirty,” and the number of people who care and share their talents and their prayers to reach out to others.

Those named and unnamed have made a difference by showing the community that love shows up in many forms and when it does, it truly touches lives — not just on the receiving end, but even those who only connect in hearing about the support extended not just the day the tornado struck the area, but in its aftermath.

It reminds us one more time how much can be accomplished when willing spirits work together toward a common goal — not for individual glory but, as Teri Rose says, “to get ‘R’ done.” 

Jean Shanley is retired from The Meadville Tribune where she was communities and society editor.

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