Tuesday, March 10, 2009


*from the OC Register article HERE

Miracle on Piper Place by Lori Basheda (OCRegister.com)

It all began the day the fires raced up over the hills toward Piper Place. Suddenly a megaphone was blaring: neighbors had 10 minutes to evacuate.
Darcie Campbell and her husband Ken scrambled to get in the car when they saw a neighbor walking slowly to her car two doors down.

The Campbells knew that Sandy Maitlen lived in that house, the one with the overgrown weeds. But no one ever really saw Sandy. And the less people saw of her, the more the tales grew. "We all sort of shunned her," Darcie says.

But now here she was walking to her car in the smoke, looking shaken. Ken ran over: Do you need help? he asked.

And she started crying.

After the fires, after everyone on Piper Place was safe to move back, Darcie and Ken made a decision that they would get to know Sandy. “And actually, our minds were blown,” she says. It turns out Sandy, now 66, is a perfectly friendly lady who has lived on Piper Place since the mid ’70s. Divorced, she raised her two children alone. One daughter died after surgery five years ago. She now has a grown daugther who lives with her, along with a granddaughter.

One day Sandy let Darcie into her house. ”That this was in my neighborhood, on my street, and we never even noticed her need,” Darcie says, trailing off.

In one bathroom there was a hole in the floor, no toilet. In another bathroom, the toilet overflows. There were pipes leaking in the ceiling, black mold, no heat, two broken windows and the front door was hung upside down, on one hinge.

Darcie is part of a Thursday night fellowship group that meets behind Sandy’s house at the home of Julie and Noel Cruz. ”Can we all come together?” she asked them.

And come together they did. This weekend about 50 people are converging on Sandy’s house, carrying cans of paint and tool boxes.

"It's sort of unbelievable," Darcie says. "People used to tell stories if they saw a shadow in her house, and behind that was this very sweet lady."
Sandy chuckles at the idea. "I just tried to do things myself. I didn't want to be a bother to people, so we kind of kept to ourselves."

And now: "It is just beyond my wildest imagination," she says. "I'm just overwhelmed with all the goodness and kindness."

If you want to join the gang of people helping Sandy or donate anything, call Darcie’s daughter Stacie at 714-507-0859 or staciedthomas@yahoo.com

NOTE: Some of Darcie's neighbors and friends from a house church on her street will be painting, sanding and doing an "Extreme Home Makeover" of Sandy's house from March 20th - 22nd. For more information and to help out go HERE

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