New Castle News

September 5, 2013

Pipeline workers’ giving helps devastated family

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Kimberly Campbell said she will never forget the generosity a women’s pipeline group showed after fire ravaged her home.

Campbell was out to dinner July 12 with her fiancé when her phone buzzed with an alarming text message from her son. The family’s home at 200 W. Cherry St. was burning.

The couple headed home where they found her three sons and baby sitter safe. But they lost the family dog and most of their belongings in the blaze that swept through their two-story home.

A phone call that came unexpectedly a few weeks later was a bright spot in the chaos.

Stevi Gregory, the wife of a natural gas pipeline worker, called Campbell to say she had a check to help with the family’s plight.

Gregory’s family is staying at Heritage Hills Mobile Home Park while her husband is laying pipeline from Mahoning Township into Ohio.

The park’s manager, Ken Campbell, had mentioned his niece’s home had burned, so Gregory decided to help out.

Gregory said she had been through two fires as a child and “I feel bad for anyone going through that.”

She contacted the head man on the job site and told him a family needed help. Then she got up at 5 a.m. one morning with her sons, Jim Lee Gregory, 14, and Sebren Beau Gregory, 6, and fellow pipeline wives Angel Bradt and Erika Hoglund. They took buckets to the workers’ headquarters and passed them among the workers.

“I got up in front of about 300 pipeliners and made a speech and asked for help for the family,” she said.

Within 15 minutes, they had collected $2,300.

She wrote Campbell a check and gave it to her when they met for the first time at the New Castle News office.

That is one of the acts of philanthropy wives of pipeline workers have done while living a mobile lifestyle, traveling from town to town, Gregory said.

Campbell is grateful for their generosity.

 “I can’t even put it in words,” she said. “I never expected it from anybody, to get the help that I’ve gotten.”

When the family lost their home, “I just cried and cried. All I kept thinking of was, where are my kids going to go?”

The American Red Cross put them in a hotel for four days and contributed $60 per night for three more days.

They spent one night at Campbell’s mother’s house and have moved into a rental house on the city’s North Hill.

The family’s 8-month-old fox terrier/Chihuahua mix, Isabella, perished in the blaze, too afraid to descend the 20 steps from the upstairs, Campbell said, adding her middle son, who has a form of autism, had become emotionally attached to the puppy.

“We were able to salvage dishes and a couple small kitchen appliances,” Campbell said. “Our TV was only a couple of months old.”

But three iPods, four flat-screen televisions and a new computer all went up in flames, along with clothing, bedding and furniture, some of which was antique, and Campbell’s collection of Castleton china.

The family’s income is limited. Her fiancé works for Towne Mall Pizza and she’s a stay-at-home mom. She receives disability payments for two of her boys.

The pipeline fundraiser was the second one that benefited the family.

Campbell’s sisters, Jamie Campbell and Jennifer Smiley, and her mother, Yvonne Campbell, organized a spaghetti dinner Aug. 4 at the Elks Club, where they raised $1,800.

But they still have a lot of needs, Campbell said.

She intends to use the money from the pipeline workers to buy furniture, and she planned to give each son $100 to use for school supplies and toys.

Her family still needs clothing, household items and funds, she said.

Anyone who wants to contribute may contact Campbell at (724) 674-8389 to find out what their needs are and arrange to make donations.