May Family

On January 29 of this year, the May family lost their home in a fire. Now, the community is coming together to support them. Managing Editor Hailey Surbrook | Photo Editor Spencer Isberg | Staff Writer Toria Montgomery

Above: The May family discusses how their lives have changed since the fire in late January. For the last few weeks, they have been renting a house in the countryside. Photo: Spencer Isberg

The May family gained a new perspective on life on Jan. 29. It started out just like any other night; their family had dinner at 6 p.m. and the kids enjoyed their snow day. Because they live farther away, the family went into town all together at the same time, leaving the house empty. What they found when they returned home was something they would have never expected.
The father, Joseph May, decided to come back earlier than the rest of the family. He had been gone for about three hours and arrived home to the sound of the smoke alarm going off and the faint smell of smoke. He immediately knew that something was wrong.
“Our reaction was immediately to rescue our dogs,” May said. “One was waiting at the door and the others were nowhere to be found. We ran back in to find them, several times, but to no avail.”
He quickly called 911 and contacted the rest of his family, including his daughter, sophomore Eva May. Eva said that the house fire took her by surprise and that her family didn’t know how to respond to the situation.
“We all just were in shock and we really didn’t know what to think,” Eva said. “Everything happened so fast.”
At 4 a.m. the next morning, the fire was finally extinguished. With emergency services leaving, the damage to their home had been done. The family, however, was still intact. Everyone was safe, but they had lost two dogs. Joseph said that he and his family would like to give thanks to all of the rescue personnel that came and helped them that night.
“It was a very tough, cold, and challenging ordeal for all of them,” Joseph said.
Although at first they were taken aback by the situation, Joseph said that the family is trying to have an optimistic view.
“We have made a pact to stay positive and to move forward and not dwell on it,” Joseph said. “Our family has been consistent through this and we know we have each other for support.”
Through all the events that have occured, Joseph and Eva have stated that this situation has helped them grow closer as a family and has helped them get a better grasp of what’s truly important in life.
“It forces you to realize what truly matters,” Joseph said. “We have our health, our family and still have one dog. Everything else can be replaced. It could have been much worse.” Joseph said that they plan to rebuild their new house on the same property lot.
The family is currently staying with Joseph’s nephew. “Many adjustments have been made, our morning routine for one. A strange house means strange beds, new clothes, new everything, in which we haven’t purchased yet,” Joseph said.
Reece Nye, a friend of Eva’s older brother, Garrett May, set up a GoFundMe for the family, which Eva said has helped improve their family’s situation significantly. She said that as of Feb. 22, their family has received about $38,000 from the community.
“[Reece] started a GoFundMe and shared it around Facebook and we have had so many people donate to the GoFundMe and it’s just helped us out so much,” Eva said.
Not only has the May family been receiving help from their friends and family, but the school as well. Eva is a member of the swim team and the team arranged a can drive in order to help raise money for the May family. Junior Tegan Kareus is a member of the team as well, and she said that the team wanted to do everything they can to help the family.
“We knew it was the right thing to do to help out their family the best we could, so we wanted to do as much as possible to help support a fellow teammate,” Kareus said.
The main collection period for the can drive occurred in early February. The team also hosted a collection event at Trinity Lutheran church the weekend of Feb. 10 There are baskets placed around the school for collecting cans, and the swim team will still be returning cans and giving the money to the Mays for as long as people are willing to donate. Kareus said that as of Feb. 22, the drive has made $400-500, and the team will be replacing Eva’s swim gear that was lost in the fire.
“We’re just raising as much as possible to help them out in the best way we can,” Kareus said, “Every little bit counts.”
Among all of this, Joseph said that himself and the rest of the family have been delighted by the amount of support that people have given them through the many fundraisers as well as the thoughts and prayers of many.
“The community has stepped up in ways that we couldn’t have imagined, it’s been absolutely wonderful to see the support, the care, and the donations that came in as well as the GoFundMe account,” Joseph said. “It’s all been a blessing for our family.”