That morning, our GPS led us to our new address. We arrived to find people walking in our yard and all around our tiny new home. We soon found out they were Platte Valley Elementary School board and church members waiting to help us unload.

We were nearly done unloading our U-Haul, talking and laughing, when my husband and another person started backing up toward the U-Haul ramp carrying a piece of furniture. As my husband was stepping down off the U-Haul, his right foot missed the ramp. Down he went. I found him lying on his back in severe pain. A 911 call was made and the local fire/EMT vehicle arrived. I remember standing still—as if frozen—looking around at a yard full of people I barely knew, my husband lying in pain on the ground, and the EMT first responders telling me we had to go with them right away to the hospital.

I remember the school board chair saying she’d take care of our belongings and lock up. The pastor said he’d return the U-Haul. And a very kind new friend offered to follow behind the medics and stay with me at the hospital. 

Emergency room X-rays showed that my husband had shattered both bones in his right leg. Due to the severity of the breaks, we were told he had to be transported immediately to Lincoln, Nebraska, to see a surgeon. 

I later learned that not only church and school members, but neighbors we hadn’t even met, came and helped with our belongings after we’d gone. I also found out the very same first responders who initially assisted my husband after his fall had returned on their own time that afternoon and helped with the final unloading of our U-Haul. 

I shared this story at the program because we were so amazed and impressed at the kindness showered upon us in our time of need. These people—church members, Platte Valley Elementary School staff, neighbors we had not met, and firefighters/first responders—had acted in kindness and become family.

Cathy Tomlinson is head teacher at Platte Valley Elementary School in Grand Island, Nebraska.