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Local mother receives home makeover from church
SMOKEY POINT Kathy Tri found out how many friends she had April 30, when members of the Smokey Point Community Church presented her with a completely remade house.
Tri had spent the previous 10 days staying at the Whidbey Island farm of Julie Mydynski, her sister-in-law, while Mydynski camped out in an RV in front of Tri's house, joining an estimated 100 other people in completing a number of home repairs and improvements that Tri had started herself, but never gotten around to finishing.
"Most of the people were from the church," Mydynski said. "Some of us were family, but a lot of folks were just community members. Kathy took care of my farm animals and we just lived here in the motor home."
Both Mydynski and Stacey Anderson, who helped coordinate the home makeover, had a hard time keeping track of all the services and supplies that were donated to their efforts. Mydynski noted that they'd received free interior and exterior paint jobs, a free washer and dryer set, a brand new recliner and sofa, and donated hours from a plumber, who installed a new shower and bathtub.
"We had so many miracles, all just at the right time," Mydynski said. "The labor and materials were all free, there was always food on hand every time we got hungry, and it all came from a stream of different people."
Anderson added that work crews were neither assigned nor organized by shifts, and volunteers simply arrived of their own accord, usually in groups of three to four.
"Some days, we wound up working six hours," Anderson said. "Other days, we were here from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. It wasn't orchestrated at all. We just prayed and let God do the work. People just showed up when they were needed, and both businesses and individuals heard our needs and met them. They were the answer to our prayers."
Anderson emphasized that the volunteers' work was merely intended to complete the projects that Tri had started. Mydynski pointed out that, as a single mother, Tri didn't had the time or the resources to finish those efforts on her own, even when her son, Bryan Blakeney, moved back in for a while to help his mom out.
"I'd lived here 22 years, and the sudden 180-degree change just blows my mind," said Blakeney, who has since moved back out. "I grew up in the Smokey Point Community Church, so it's amazing to see those people come together and lend their skills."
Among the changes Blakeney noticed were rebuilt walls, new fencing and decks, and an outdoor fire pit, where several volunteers sat while waiting for a "Thanksgiving" meal April 30, after presenting Tri with her "new house."
"Kathy's always wanted to host Thanksgiving dinner in her house, but she couldn't before," Mydynski said. "So, we brought four turkeys, along with enough mashed potatoes and pumpkin pies to feed everyone. This is such a caring church. Kathy's been going here for about 30 years."
Tri herself was so overcome with emotion that she took the time to type out thank you notes for all the volunteers beforehand.
"The house was a shambles, and the effort just to get from room to room without being hurt was a miracle in itself," Tri said. "The only seat in the house, other than the bed, was the toilet, and even that was a challenged to get to. Offers had come to me before, but I thought I could get it all done someday. I finally realized that someday wasn't coming any time soon."
Tri called first on her mother, then on her brother and sister-in-law, and remembered that she'd received offers of help from Anderson, a neighbor and fellow member of the Smokey Point Community Church.
"I said I wanted my life and my house back and that I needed help," Tri said. "Asking for any help has always been a problem for me, since I'm the one who is usually the helper."
Tri admitted that she still didn't know the names of "about 85 percent of the people here," she expressed her tearful gratitude to all of them. Volunteers such as Anderson were modest about their role.
"I just want to praise God, because this whole thing is His doing," Anderson said. "Christ lavishly loves us, so we should do the same for others."