A Thank You from Theresa Strader

Hello Friends,

I wanted to take some time tonight to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to each and every one of you who supported my family in so many ways over the past four weeks. As you can imagine, losing our home in the wildfire was certainly a shocking and saddening experience. However, the outpouring of love and support from so many has not only been a tremendous help but has been deeply comforting. I honestly cannot put into words how your kindness and generosity has profoundly touched every member of my family.

When we evacuated our home just hours after the fire started, we knew we had a safe haven to go to at NMDR’s kennel facility. There, we knew our dogs would be welcomed and safe and we would be amongst friends. From miles across the prairie as nighttime fell, many of us watched as the plume of smoke grew over Black Forest at an alarming speed. We were worried sick for our neighbors and friends, the animals, both domestic and wild, and our community. It was a surreal experience, really difficult to describe.

Early the next morning, we learned that our home and property were a complete loss. Throughout the day, we heard of other families and their animals in need. The NMDR kennel property soon became an evacuee camp for many displaced families and their pets. Our volunteers selflessly stepped up in so many ways to care for all of us affected by the fire. Large, beautiful RV’s were brought to the property for evacuees to live in and they built fenced yards around the RV’s so we could enjoy the much-needed company of our dogs. Beautiful homemade food arrived each afternoon for all of the evacuees to share for dinner. We ate together, talking, laughing and crying. It was a very special time that we will be grateful for forever. We had each other and we had our pets and as devastating as the situation was, we were safe and comforted.

As the last family to leave the “RV Dog Park”, two days ago, we moved into a rental home owned by two longtime NMDR volunteers. They have graciously extended the use of their home while we undergo the rebuilding process. It is a lovely home where we are able to live with all of our beloved furry family members. We are so lucky to be here and I am finally able to spend time catching up on day to day responsibilities. So, this is where we are today, healing and very fortunate.

Little did I know that in the background of the chaos after losing our home, a fundraising effort was established on behalf of our family. Shortly thereafter, cards and gifts, supplies and donations began arriving. The YouCaring site was established and people literally around the world began offering their support. It has been difficult for me to grasp how we are deserving of such kindness and generosity from so many people, many I have never met. From the barber shop fundraiser in Joplin, Missouri to the unemployed woman who cleaned two houses so that she could send us $100, to all of the loving and supportive comments, it is truly overwhelming. I am humbled beyond explanation and my family’s gratitude is immeasurable.

Please accept our heartfelt thanks and know until the day we die, we will honor your support and continue to give a voice to the mill dogs because no matter the circumstance, at the end of the day, that is who we are and that is what we do.

With boundless love and gratitude,
The Straders

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