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United Way lends a helping hand

“You have your whole world snatched out under you…”

That’s how Tammy Hunter described what it was like losing her home to the April 28 tornado.

Hunter’s home in Hillpoint Farms (and, subsequently, the business she ran out of her house) was completely demolished during the devastating storm, leaving the young mother homeless and unable to support her children.

But, all hope was not lost; there to help her pick up the pieces was the United Way of South Hampton Roads.

Hunter said she found strength through the United Way and the friendship she made with Tywana German, its executive director.

“I’d call her at 10 at night, she (German) always called me back,” said Hunter. “She seemed like she was never too busy to help me.”

Even after the initial damage from the tornado was cleared, Hunter suffered an emotional and physical toll from the stress of the storm. Hunter said German was still there throughout it all.

“I had gotten sick and it was all so overwhelming I fainted and was admitted to the hospital,” she said. Hunter added that while she was in the hospital, German would call and check up on her, telling her that she would help hold her hand through the rebuilding process.

German kept her word.

Hunter was one of many residents who received sizable financial help from the United Way.

In all, the United Way raised $679,867 for those individuals impacted by the tornado. According to German, as of Sept.5, all of the qualifying needs that were presented had been met and the distribution process was now closed.

“Direct financial relief to individuals impacted by the storm totaled $653,483,” German said. “The remaining $26,384 will be allocated for an emergency reserve fund for future disasters, as directed by corporate donors.

“As a community, we did and will continue to stand proud. For that we would like to say ‘thank you,'” German said. She also noted the support from the city of Suffolk employees, department of social services, police and fire, public works and utilities and the parks and recreation departments.

“While the April 28 tornado was devastating, this community pulled together and we all made friendships and partnerships that we will carry with us for a lifetime,” said German.

Hunter will not soon forget the friend she has in German.

“Being under that kind of stress you really can’t handle that kind of task (rebuilding your home),” she said, “but Tywana and the United Way were there to help us through the transition.”