On June 21st, family and friends gathered to honor Beth in a celebration of life service situated at one of her favorite places. It was a beautiful setting at an outdoor pavilion on Kinzua Reservoir near Bradford, Pennsylvania where she lived. The day was perfect with clear blue skies. The pavilion was surrounded by forget-me-nots and buttercups.
Everyone gathered to share memories, songs and stories of the remarkable woman that Beth was. As the opening song was played, an eagle appeared and circled the pavilion. It was a beautiful reminder of Beth's spirit.
After the service, each person released a balloon with a message to Beth. It was amazing to find in a picture taken at that time that the balloons had formed a heart in the sky.
Thank you so very much for your thoughtfulness and many kindnesses as you reached out to Beth and her family. It has brought so much comfort and joy along this journey to realize the goodness of friends and strangers that have rallied to help. May God bless you all.
Here is an article that appeared yesterday in the Bradford Era, the local newspaper that ran the initial report about the fire that destroyed Beth and Jim's home:
Community shows support for Corydon Township fire victims
By RUTH BOGDAN Era Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org | Updated 14 hours ago
A moving story of loss has spurred the community to support one Bradford family recently left homeless after a fire.
In the early morning hours of Feb. 12, as temperatures dropped to around minus 20 degrees, a fire broke out at the 2407 W. Washington St., Corydon Township, home of Jim and Beth Foster. The fire destroyed the home.
Losing the house was not the worst of their problems; Beth Foster, who had been battling stage IV lung cancer for two years, was bedridden. Jim Foster suffered frostbite on his feet from saving his wife and pets from the blaze while barefoot, and Beth Foster suffered minor burns.
Right after the fire, the couple's niece, Katie Nannen, started a web page to benefit the Fosters on GoFundMe, a website dedicated to helping people raise money for various reasons. Nannen explained that she wanted "to help them get back on their feet," and has been pleased with the response. Since the fire, "so many people have asked what they could do for Beth and Jim," she said.
Also, the very firefighters who struggled to put out the fire in the bitter cold stepped up to help the family following the blaze. Nannen said the volunteer firefighters, as well as neighbors of the Fosters, immediately reached out to the family, offering clothing and food.
Little did anyone know, however, that more tragedy was forthcoming for the family.
Just over two weeks after the fire, Jim Foster has suffered another loss "” his wife passed away on Thursday, which was her birthday.
Nannen is continuing to seek support for her uncle, who she said is still recovering from his frostbite but is "actually much better." She noted he received skin grafts as part of his treatment.
So far, Nannen has raised nearly $18,000 of her $30,000 goal. As of Tuesday evening, the site showed a total of $17,805 had been collected. Quite a bit, she noted, has come from strangers.
The website has served not only as a way for people to provide financial support, but also as a final testimony showing what she meant to others and how much she will be missed.
According to Nannen, she was hesitant to show the page to her aunt, "a very proud person" who did not like to take things from others. However, Nannen decided she wanted to show her aunt the messages people sent through GoFundMe. "She was able to look through all those comments," said Nannen, who said they brought her aunt much joy in her last days.
The couple had attended church at St. Bonaventure Church in Allegany, N.Y., which is where Beth Foster grew up, according to Nannen. She said the Fosters raised their own children in Coudersport.
Before Beth Foster became sick, she had taken care of many people herself.
According to Nannen, her aunt was a respiratory therapist at Bradford Regional Medical Center for many years. Beth Foster had worked at Cole Memorial Hospital in Coudersport, too.
Then Beth Foster herself became a patient. The family reported the staff who took care of her in BRMC's Cancer Care Center is "amazing."
Immediately after the fire, the Fosters had reportedly been staying with family. However, now Jim Foster must decide what to do next.
"This family has lost everything," wrote Jamie Luli, whose son, Nicholas, married the Fosters' daughter, Jerrica, in January. "They have endured life injustices beyond comprehension ... and through the pain, have done so with grace, kindness and immense gratitude for those who are trying to help."
Nannen was likewise touched by her aunt's outlook on life.
When describing Beth Foster's passing on her fundraising site, she wrote, "She leaves behind a legacy of happiness, joy and love that touched everyone who knew her."
Of the 100 or so donors to date on the GoFundMe site, there are numerous messages from family, friends, acquaintances and various groups wishing the family well and expressing the family is in their thoughts and prayers. Many anonymous donations are also listed.
Beth went into the hospital 5 days ago with difficulty breathing. All of her family traveled to be with her as her condition worsened. It was a blessing that during these final days every member of the family had time to be with her and comfort her. She passed away peacefully on her birthday, February 27. She leaves behind a legacy of happiness, joy and love that touched everyone who knew her. Thank you for your many prayers and your support.
Jim has received promising news from the doctors regarding his feet. The frostbitten areas are healing better than expected. In the next days and weeks, he will begin think about where to live and start learning to live without Beth. He and the children are so grateful for your support during this time; knowing you have been praying for them has made such a difference.
Jim received some good news today. The doctors will have to remove some dead tissue from his injured feet, but he will not lose any toes due to the frostbite. He is getting around a little better each day.
Beth's parents and children have rallied to turn one of the bedrooms in her parents' home into a calm, peaceful place where she can rest and regain her strength. Beth and Jim's kids been given time off work from their employers to be with them this past week, which has been such comfort and help.
As time goes on, Beth and Jim and their family will begin to determine what the next step will be.
Thank you so very much for all your prayers, well wishes and support. They are a source of strength and hope. The joy and gratitude they have experienced from all you have done makes what they are going through more bearable.
Jim and Beth are recuperating at Beth's parents' house while coming to terms with this latest challenge. The injuries to Jim's feet due to frostbite are a major concern, and Beth is dealing with her burns and her ongoing health issues. But they are so thankful to have each other and the overwhelming support and love of family, friends and those whom they have never met but are helping in such meaningful ways.
As the costs of their care and the extent of their losses mount, we will be adjusting the goal level to reflect those needs.
Thank you for your willingness to join us in this effort to help Jim and Beth rebuild the life they have lost. Our hearts are filled with gratitude.
On the night of February 11th, Beth and Jim Foster suffered a devastating fire that destroyed their home in rural Pennsylvania. Everything they owned was lost in the fire, and they sustained burns and frostbite from the 20 below zero weather that night. They arrived at a family member's home with just the clothes on their backs.
Beth has been battling stage 4 lung cancer for the past two years. Her family and friends hope to help them create a new home where they can be comfortable and continue to fight her courageous battle.
Katie- I am so sorry about your aunt and everything your family has gone too. I wish I could've met her. I'm sure she was just as beautiful as you are , both on the inside and out. This article was so touching, and I know she's looking down on you from a special place. I am always here for you and love you very much!
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