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Chester County Press

Editorial: Our most generous act

07/14/2015 12:26PM ● By Richard Gaw
The sources of our compassion do not discriminate. The wellspring is found everywhere – from the lessons of our upbringing, from our faith, and from our consciences. Sometimes, our best actions begin with a newspaper article. 

Days after a downed utility pole severely damaged their Honey Brook mobile home on June 29, John and Tiffany Rissler and their four children were left homeless when a truck, entering the mobile home park to deliver pipes for a well, clipped a utility wire near the Rissler's mobile home. The truck brought down two telephone poles, one of which landed on the Rissler's roof. Oil from the transformer spilled through the hole in the roof, soaking nearly everything inside the home. The Risslers accepted a credit card from the Red Cross, and an offer from the trucking company to stay in a nearby motel for a few days. The home was condemned, and the Risslers have been told that they have two months to have their home demolished, at their expense. Their landlord has told them that there is nothing he can do for them. There is very little money; the only source of income the family has comes from a monthly disability check Tiffany receives for one of her children.

"It's like a nightmare you can't wake up from," Tiffany told us.

Within days of the accident, John reached out to the Chester County Press, asking us to write the story of what happened. The article was posted on the newspaper's website on July 9, and also appears in this week's printed edition of the Press. In the days since, the story has had nearly 9,000 visits online, almost 200 shares, and kicked the kindness and generosity of many of our readers into overdrive.

In the last five days, we have received several emails from our readers, all of whom have volunteered to provide what they can. A woman asked us to forward her email address to the Rissler family, to tell them that she would take the family into her home and provide them with food, clothing and comfort.

A 16-year-old girl from Pottstown also wrote, telling us that she went through her clothes and filled a bag with sweatshirts, jeans and shirts. The Risslers have set up an online GoFundMe account for donations, and in five days, have already received close to $1,000, mostly in anonymous donations.

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries," the Dalai Lama wrote. "Without them, humanity cannot survive."

At our worst times, how many of us have had to dig deep into our pride and swallow it for the sake of asking for help? There is no cowardice in need; rather, there is heroism, and what the Risslers are doing by asking for help from strangers has allowed all of us – their Chester County neighbors – to put into motion the very act that makes us most human.

To make your contribution to the Rissler family, visit

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