By Kim Borges and Jeremy King
You’ve seen the stories. Disaster strikes. People, businesses and nonprofits respond.
Immediate recovery is fueled in equal parts by adrenaline and goodwill.
But what about later – when the news crews have left? What about when the initial recovery money is exhausted?
This is a story about long-term support … long after the skies have cleared … but also long before the community could ever return to normal.
To set the stage, Doing More Today spoke with Matthew Allen of Mayfield, Kentucky.
If the town sounds familiar – there’s a reason.
“I was in the path of the tornado just an hour before it passed through, and I returned within a couple hours to check on family,” said Allen. “The very place I’d stood before was completely changed. The streets were pitch black with power lines and debris everywhere.”
Dozens of families were at the beginning of a heart-breaking journey. People urgently looked for survivors. They were not always successful.
James Potter wasn’t far away. He remembers the sequence. First, the sirens. Then silence. Then the roar.
“Earlier that night, I remember thinking, ‘This seems different, this isn’t a normal storm,'” recalled Potter. “Later, I couldn’t really fathom what I was seeing. I’ve seen this in the movies. We were in the eye of the storm.”
While Potter was on the first floor of the house, his partner, Tanya Jackson, was huddled in the basement with a friend.
“You could see the house shift,” said Jackson. “It was just horrific. I’d never been in a tornado.”
But they survived. Other houses nearby were simply wiped away.
“We were lucky,” said Potter.
To help people in Mayfield, the Regions Foundation, a nonprofit funded primarily by Regions Bank, immediately pledged $100,000 for tornado recovery.
“When our Western Kentucky neighbors experienced the unimaginable, the Regions Foundation and our colleagues at Regions Bank immediately deployed financial resources and volunteer support to help,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “It was clear the widespread, catastrophic damage would require an extended focus. Nonprofits like the Mayfield Graves County Long-Term Recovery Group have been leading the way. We’re incredibly proud to support the organization’s commitment to rebuilding the area’s homes and restoring the hope of so many people.”
Mayfield looks a lot better today than 18 months ago – but it’s still a world away from what it was.
So, the final $15,000 of the Regions Foundation’s funding is going toward the Mayfield Graves County Long-Term Recovery Group (MLTRG). In addition to the Foundation’s support, local Regions Bank associates are lending their own assistance – because they’re invested in seeing Mayfield made whole.
Remember Matthew Allen? He works for Regions Bank’s Consumer Banking team. And his commitment to Mayfield runs deep.
“When I had the chance to come back to Mayfield as the branch manager last May, I knew I wanted to get involved in a meaningful way to help our community with the recovery and rebuilding,” he said. “After hearing about the collaboration that was happening to help our survivors – and the need for volunteers – I decided to make myself available in any way I could.”
That includes being part of MLTRG’s Unmet Needs Committee. Help is still available. People are not forgotten.
Of course, the most immediate need for people like James Potter and Tanya Jackson was shelter.
“I was at a loss; I had no clue where to go or what to do,” said Potter after living in a temporary trailer and motel for several months following the storm. “The only sane thing was going to work to not think about it.”
Then, Potter and Jackson met Shanna Bradley, a case manager with Catholic Charities in Graves County, who works with MLTRG, too.
“Once we met Shanna, things just seemed to fall into place,” said Potter. “She led us in the right direction and helped us complete applications. She helped us with food. She’s got a good heart and goes out of her way for people.”
With Bradley’s help, Potter and Jackson first moved to a camper in June of 2022 and then into a formerly vacant home remodeled by volunteers. Matthew Allen and several of his Regions Bank teammates were part of the “New Lease on Life” renovation project.
Jackson said moving in was a full-circle moment. Turns out, she’d lived in the exact same house years before meeting Potter – and even raised her son there.
“I can still remember seeing the swing set in the backyard,” she said. “It’s coming home, but better this time. This is about the nicest place I’ve ever lived.”
Potter is equally thankful.
“I’m just grateful for everything that’s happened … for a roof over my head, for food in my belly,” he said. “Now, I have a peace of mind. We’re blessed.”
It may not make headlines anymore. But the story is just as powerful.
Because support for survivors didn’t fade away after the skies cleared.
“The experience has taught me to have a little more faith in people,” Potter concluded. “There are good people out there still.”
About Regions Foundation
The Alabama-based Regions Foundation supports community investments that positively impact communities served by Regions Bank. The Foundation engages in a grantmaking program focused on priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.
About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $154 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates more than 1,250 banking offices and more than 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.
SOURCE: Regions Bank
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