Life changed for many people in Bastrop in a year ago. On September 4th, 2011, fires ravaged the Bastrop countryside. With over 1,500 homes destroyed, this was one of the worst forest fires in recent US history. Now, outward signs of recovery are evident. Workers cut and removed dead and burned trees, the green is returning, and families have rebuilt homes. What’s not so obvious is the continuing struggle of families who lost everything, and still need help.
Tiffany knew she and Billy had to act. On September 7th, 2011, Billy and Tiffany Roberts spoke to a friend that lost everything in the fires. Thinking of what they could do to help, Billy suggested that they “adopt” their friends to help them get all necessary items. Billy and Tiffany could then support and help their friends track down items needed to repopulate their new housing.
Later that night, Tiffany had an idea. If they could help one family, then maybe others who were like minded could help more families. At first, Tiffany sat on her front lawn with a phone and a computer to coordinate item donation and pick-up. That evolved into a Facebook page called “Bastrop Fire – Adopt A Family,” as the effort gained momentum in terms of matching needs with available donations. Relates Tiffany, “Some people lost everything, and now they’ve run out of money.” That’s where Adopt-A-Family helps. They assist with food, clothing, and now school supplies. Tiffany also raised over $100,000 in her Christmas Toy Drive to give away to families who lost everything in the fire, so their children could have toys for Christmas. With their work far from done, Tiffany and Billy, planning to move to Dallas, decided to stay and dedicate their time to the needs of others.
Through the Facebook group they not only helped people with the essentials, but also helped them to find housing and household items immediately. Since the “Adopt A Family” program through the Facebook group was so successful, it decided to expand. The AAF-US nonprofit corporation was created on September 21, 2011.
On Tuesday, September 18th, 2012, we gathered at the Bastrop County Library to honor Tiffany as our September Legend. Tiffany was awarded a $1,000 pay-it-forward donation in her name to the All About Families organization. Mayor Terry Orr attended the event and participated in presenting Tiffany with other gifts, including a $100 gift card. In speaking of Tiffany and her husband Billy he said, “Not only did they recognize a need, they did something about it! It is a good thing for the city ofBastrop, and we are very proud of them.”
Tiffany’s husband, Billy, also had the opportunity to speak about Tiffany, and shared some very touching things about his wife. “Tiffany is a saving grace to many people. She steps up every time. She is a leader, and is exactly what people need. Tiffany always knows what to do.”
I think one of the best parts of the presentation though was getting to talk with Tiffany personally afterwards. With Tiffany and Billy the stories just don’t seem to stop!
One of my favorite stories was actually about the original family that Billy had wanted to help. Tiffany told us about how they had been foster parents for some years. For this reason, they happen to have children’s items that matched up perfectly with the family in need that they wanted to help. So Tiffany and Billy sought out the family to give them the children’s items, and the rest is history! We are looking forward to connecting with the Roberts again in the near future, to hear more stories about the great things they are doing in the Bastrop community.