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.
Donations are being accepted for Jim Foster at http://www.gofundme.com/6vdt84#.