Friend starts petition to get new home for Jessee family
The Jessee family from Great Cacapon lost their home in a pre-Christmas fire. Christy Terp, a friend of the Jessee
family, has started an online petition for the family to be considered by the Extreme Makeover TV show for a
new home. She is seeking
as many signatures as poss-
The Jessees had gone to visit a friend and run some errands on December 19 while the kids were in school. While they were gone, their dishwasher caught fire and their home burnt down. Everything they had was destroyed in the fire. Their home was considered a total loss.
The family has been trying to rebuild their home with the
little they have left, but they don't have the money or manpower, said Terp. The insurance money the family received from the fire paid off the mortgage on their former home, she said.
The family of Heath and Cindy Jessee and their four children—11-year-old Austin, 9 year old twins Bobby and J.T. and 8-year-old Lexis—have been living in a donated 3-bedroom single-wide trailer on their property since January.
They have re-carpeted the trailer, put in new floors and linoleum and new plumbing in the trailer. The family can only have the trailer for one year, said Terp. The family is grateful to have a temporary home, but with four kids, it's very small, she said.
The community rallied around the family and donated clothing, furniture, household items and Christmas and birthday presents after the fire. The three youngest children had birthdays coming up before Christmas. They have lots of donated things to fill a home, but no home to put them in, said Terp.
Terp is the mother of the Jessees' oldest son Austin, whom the Jessees' adopted when he was two-years-
old. Terp knew Heath Jessee's mom when she was younger and said that he was like a brother to her.
"I don't know what I'd be doing now if they hadn't helped me then," said Terp of the Jessees.
Have touched so many lives
Terp said the Jessees were a wonderful family that have helped so many people and touched so many lives in their community. The Jessees have helped nearly 25 people that were homeless or that had fallen on bad times over the last few years, she said. The Jessees are very kind, very generous and always willing to help, said Terp.
Terp decided to circulate a petition when she noticed
that the Extreme Makeover show had responded within three months to a Nashville family's need for a home makeover when the town sent
a petition with 50,000 signatures to them. The Extreme Makeover show helps deserving people that are in need
of a home, she said. Terp
found the online ipetition.com website during a Google
continues on page 5)
If anyone starts a local petition for the Jessees ,Terp will submit the signatures to Extreme Makeover at the same time as her online petition. The online petition had 144 signatures as of Monday.
Curves of Berkeley Springs owner Connie Cox began a paper petition at Curves after hearing of the family's plight. Some 79 local Curves members have signed the petition since it was posted on April 17. The club is still actively collecting signatures from members, said Cox.
Community response overwhelming
The outpouring from the community to their need after the fire was overwhelming, said Cindy Jessee. The hardest part was losing the baby pictures and books, she said. The family had lived in their house for six years.
They raced home after they got the phone call that their house was burning. As they drove past Panorama to Great Cacapon, they could see the fire and smoke. "We knew it was hopeless. We couldn't do anything but stand and watch it burn," said Jessee.
It was a miracle in a way because if she had put the dishwasher on as usual before they went to bed instead of before they left for town, the family would never have made it out of the house alive, said Jessee.
The breakers for the smoke alarms that were wired into the house had flipped, the fire marshal said. The smoke alarms would never have warned them in time.
The kids are doubled up now in bunk beds. Their goal is to at least put a roof over their basement so each of their kids will be able to have their own room. The previous home had five bedrooms in the basement and a two-car garage that they made into a little apartment with two bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, a bathroom and a laundry. The apartment was used several times by people who needed a place to stay.
Helped others in need
Jessee said that she's watched the Extreme Makeover show and cried.
"I never imagined that it would be a possibility for us," said Jessee.
Jessee said it has been rough, but the family is doing pretty well. "It really makes you stronger. The kids have learned to appreciate things we took for granted. We all have," she said. "In times like this you have to reach deep and go by faith," Jessee said.
Online petition link
The link for the Jessee family online petition is http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/thejesseefamilyextrememakeover. You enter your name and a valid e-mail address. The only thing the public sees is your name and comments and not your e-mail address, said Terp. You can also sign anonymously so no name is shown.