As many people know, my mom works every summer as the head horse wrangler at Ring Lake Ranch, which is a spiritual retreat center deep in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. At 67, she’s hauling bales of hay, caring for a herd of thirty horses, managing their health, and leading ranch guests on daily trail rides.
Since her house is in Colorado, each year she packs up her essential belongings, her dog Anna and her cat Daniel, and heads north for four months to work.
This past August, while she was still in Wyoming, she learned that water had been leaking in her house in Colorado for weeks. (We found out later that it had been the line to the icemaker in her fridge that caused the leak.) The paint on the walls was sagging from the weight of the water. The ceilings drooped and fell to the floor. The wood floors buckled and molded.
[Photo: Upstairs wall behind fridge.]
[Photo: Walls where kitchen counters and cabinets were.]
[Photo: Kitchen sink with counters removed.]
[Photo: The paint on the downstairs walls were saturated and sagging with water.]
[Photo: Downstairs hallway. This area was the most damaged, where the ceilings were falling.]
[Photo: More downstairs damage. This photo was taken before the reclamation crew came in.]
[Photo: Downstairs with mold growing up from the floor.]
[Photo: Utility room with everything in upheaval.]
As soon as the damage was discovered, my mom hired a reclamation company to go in to clean up the water and stop the mold from growing further. In doing so, they had to start taking down all of the drywall in the house, with all of my mom’s belongings still in the rooms. Things that hadn’t been contaminated with mold were now ruined too.
[Photo: Stack of framed art in a moldy closet.]
[Photo: “Fragile” box warped and molding.]
[Photo: Dresser with mold and drywall.]
Everything must be rebuilt.
Although my mom certainly lives a life where most things are “just things,” there are some things she will miss dearly. From her clothes to kitchenware, family heirlooms to furniture and beds, stacks of art, and outdoor gear. She recently cleaned these all out of her house to get ready for rebuilding.
[Photo: As a tutor and retired teacher, Mom lost thousands of dollars worth of curriculum materials. She used these every day with her work.]
[Photo: Mom finding joy and laughter even in a hazmat suit!]
She has already paid $8,000 out of pocket to stop the mold from growing further and to provide an on-street container to store any items we can clean and salvage. Another bill for $12,000 is pending to finish the move out, the demolition, and to decontaminate the studs. There’s still a lot of work to be done in order for the remaining structure to pass toxicity inspection.
The final costs of rebuilding the house and replacing her belongings are still unknown. My mom is talking with contractors to figure out what all of her options are. Since there will be more costs to cover in the future, we’ve set up this initial fund to keep her afloat as we navigate these next steps. Any funds raised now will go towards the reclamation bill, lawyer’s fees, and initial costs for rebuilding.
She is incredibly grateful to be staying at her friend’s house (cuddling with her dog and cat!), and she continues to work as a school tutor and with her artists’ co-op. She’s also finding great comfort in little things like new leggings, offers from friends, and daily hikes.
[Photo: Respirator beauties.]
Please consider donating any amount. Know that any support in any form that you can give will sincerely be appreciated. It’s been a hard journey so far, but the support from everyone who’s surrounding her with love is truly making a difference. Thank you for donating!
- Kathy Sullivan
- Lisa Birnbaum
- Anna Straight
- Sean & Erin Roche
Organizer and beneficiary
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more