By Beth Black, Illinois Wesleyan
Editor’s note: This week is a week of thanks for Kappa Kappa Gamma. Stop by often—we’ll post recipes from the archives and share why we are thankful, beginning with Beth Black, Director of Programs and Education, who experienced the tornadoes that struck the Midwest November 17.
Thanksgiving always has been one of my favorite holidays. Who doesn’t love a celebration centered around gratitude, family and, of course, food? This year, the list of things for which I’m grateful has grown exponentially.
I’m told that it only took 20 seconds for a tornado to rip apart my son’s home and life as we’ve known it. As my son and daughter-in-law and my grandson cowered in a closet beneath their stairs, over a thousand homes were destroyed in my beloved town of Washington, Ill., when an EF-4 monstrosity tore through neighborhoods, leaving a path of destruction that is still incomprehensible to me even as I stare at it with my own eyes.
I was on my way home from a meeting at Fraternity Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, when my phone started pinging with tornado warnings. I wasn’t sure if the warnings were for my current location of Indianapolis, Ind., or for home, but at the time, I wasn’t too concerned. Living in central Illinois, tornadoes are a fairly frequent occurrence.
Just as I was leaving Brownsburg, Ind., my husband, Al, called to tell me that a tornado had gone through town. Hearing the rising panic in his voice as he tried to reach my son’s neighborhood, the debris and disorientation making his trek difficult, I became scared. We knew that they were alive but their home was destroyed.
My mother also lives in Washington, and Al told me to call her to see if she was safe. The telephone landlines were damaged so all calls were immediately being routed to a “no service” message. I frantically hit the redial button on my phone for almost a half hour before Al called to tell me he had my mother with him. Her home was damaged, but less than a half a block away, the houses were reduced to rubble. He also confirmed that our youngest son, who was home alone at the time of the tornado, was safe and that our house was unharmed.
Within the hour, my phone was bombarded with text messages and phone calls. Many, many of those calls came from Kappas. “Where are you?” “Are you okay?” “What can we do to help?” The outpouring of concern was truly overwhelming. I heard from Kappas I’ve known for years and those whom I’ve met only once or twice. The offers of assistance started within an hour of the catastrophe and continue on a daily basis. Some days, the sweet messages that I receive from my sisters and other friends are the only things that keep me afloat.
For right now, my son’s family, my mother and a teammate of my youngest son are staying with us. Because of Kappa and some other volunteer organizations, I know that their immediate needs have been met. Through the generosity of my KKG sisters, I know that we’ll be able to help them replace things we have yet to consider.
So this Thursday when our family celebrates Thanksgiving—all of us safe and together—I will count this amazing sisterhood we call Kappa Kappa Gamma among my blessings. May you, too, take a moment to reflect on the unparalleled support that we enjoy as members of this organization. Happy Thanksgiving!
Check in tomorrow as we continue our week of thanks with recipes from books hidden in our archives!