Christine Taylor, 48, of Island Park, is the disabled mother of three sons, Fabian, 28, David, 27, and Edwin, 24, who were all serving with the Army overseas when Hurricane Sandy struck.
Taylor, who is confined to a wheelchair, was in her Island Park apartment with her mother, Margaret, 73, when Sandy hit. The two were forced to leave when the place was flooded by more than five feet of water. Not only were many of her belongings lost, but she also had to deal with the loss of cell phone reception, which kept her from contacting her sons.
Taylor, who says that she lived to receive their letters, had not seen them together for some time. While Fabian and David are now inactive, Edwin is serving his third tour in Afghanistan.
After hearing about the storm and his mother’s plight, Edwin contacted the national nonprofit organization Hope For The Warriors, which lent its support to her mother, who said it gave her hope for a brighter future.
In 2006, military wives founded Hope For The Warriors after seeing the hardships facing those who had loved ones serving in the military. In the years since, the group has expanded its programs from the wives of serving military personnel to other family members.
The program was founded in North Carolina but has offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Florida, and representatives cover California, Illinois, Texas and Wyoming.
Cindy Paauw — a young caseworker from Hope For The Warriors — was sent to help Taylor. Edwin had told Paauw about his concern for his mother’s limitations in a wheelchair, and her forced relocation with her mother to Edwin’s apartment. They were eventually relocated once more, to David’s home in Jersey City.
In November, Pauuw met Taylor to see what she needed. “I saw Christine and saw the strength in her and wanted to know her story,” Pauuw noted in her needs assessment.
Hope For The Warriors initially moved Taylor and her mother into the Garden City Hotel for three months until it could find other living arrangements. Despite their hardships after the storm — Margaret underwent treatments for skin cancer during their stay in Garden City —Taylor expressed her gratitude to Pauuw and Hope For The Warriors for helping her to get past the storm.
“They took me on as if I was family, gave us things like towels that we would have normally taken for granted,” Christine Taylor said. “[Pauuw] was there when I needed someone to talk to, and she always brightened my day.”
The help hasn’t stopped, even though Taylor’s situation is now more stable. Last month, Hope For The Warriors helped move her and her mother into a new apartment in Island Park, with volunteers providing a vanload of necessities as well. “Hope For The Warriors is just a wonderful organization,” she said. “They really take their time to get to know the people.”
Taylor — who says that she still gets nervous when it rains — told the Herald that her mother is doing well, visiting a senior center during the day but returning to their home every night. Mother and daughter have shared lots of tears in recent months and were completely numb for a while after Sandy, but Christine said they are finally starting to smile again.
With the help of Hope For The Warriors, Taylor said, she has been doing much better, and continues to anticipate Edwin’s first visit to her new home. “I am never hopeless, no matter what,” she said.