Ashland Source Letter to the Editor logo

Dear Ashland Community,

This is Greg and Ginny Telego and we wanted to post a personal “THANK YOU” to everyone who has supported us through our recent tragedy of losing our home and 4 beloved pets in a fire.

Ten weeks ago, Ginny arrived home from work to find our home engulfed in smoke. She called 911 and tried to get in to save our dogs but the smoke was too thick to get in the door to the area where the dogs were and she had to retreat.

Never in our wildest dreams did we think something so life-changing would happen to us and yet, here we are.

By far THE worst thing we are coping with is the loss of our beloved dogs – Mick, Jack and Bandit – as well as our kitten, Dorie. Mick, Jack and Bandit were all Australian Shepherds that we rescued in 2017.

Mick was 6 ½ years old and both Jack and Bandit were 2 ½ years old. Dorie would have been 2 years old in June. All lives taken from us much too soon.

But in the midst of tragedy is when we often see something bright. It can be so easy to focus on the negative things happening in our world, keeping us from realizing that we are all connected. What happened to us could have happened to anyone – and we have been hearing from many people who have experienced this same trauma.

The amazing thing is that we have had the opportunity to experience care and compassion from this community that is indescribable. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for the love and support that has been shown to us by so many people during this incredibly difficult experience.

We want people to know that we FELT this care and support the night of the fire as well as all these weeks later. It is difficult to describe but the best way to explain it is when we feel like we are falling, we feel hundreds of hands coming behind us to hold us up and help move us forward.

As you can imagine, the experience is still very fresh in our minds and we experience a huge range of emotions daily – from extreme grief over the loss of our beloved pets to extreme gratitude for the love and support we continue to receive from people both here in our local community as well as across the country.

Unfortunately, another part of the process is going through every inch of our burned house to inventory everything we owned – and we mean everything…. From pots and pans to boxes of band-aids. It is not only tedious, but very emotionally taxing to have to sift through what’s left of our home.

That is an ongoing project that we continue to work on.

Being that Ginny is self-employed, this event has also impacted us financially since she does not have paid time off and we have spent many hours since the fire coordinating the logistics of getting some sense of normal back (caring for our emotional and physical health, dealing with insurance, coordinating with the many people necessary to get our temporary mobile home set up, figuring out basic things we need to manage day to day…).

A great deal of our time has been focused on working with the insurance company to get our claim settled asap so that we can demo the burned house and start rebuilding. So we are immensely grateful for the outpouring of financial support that we have received. It truly has helped us to focus on healing and dealing with all of the things we need to in order to move through this experience.

We are happy to share that our claim has been settled and we can now start the process of moving forward with demolishing the damaged house and beginning to build a new home.

We are grateful for our strong relationships, our faith, and our combined resiliency to move through this tragedy together. We allow ourselves to feel whatever we need to feel and share our fun memories of our dogs and cat to remember the joy they brought to our lives.

We wanted to say special thanks to several people who played a key part in helping us during and following this tragic event.

- To the Hayesville Fire Department, Jeromesville Fire Department and Ashland City Fire Department: THANK YOU for coming to our rescue and your heroism in running into our home as it was in flames. It was not an accident that your departments were having a training day in Hayesville (2 miles from our home) that evening.

While the smoke took the lives of our dogs and kitten, we are so grateful for your compassion in removing their remains so that we could say goodbye. Our communities are incredibly fortunate to have people like you when tragedy strikes.

- To our wonderful neighbors – the Drews, Myers, Weavers and Cooks: OUR IMMENSE GRATITUDE TO ALL OF YOU for literally standing with us in the moments of our lives being forever changed by this event. Thank you for making sure we were okay and for helping us in the days that followed.

- To the American Red Cross: THANK YOU for your volunteers who were at our side so quickly to give us emotional support as well as make sure our immediate needs would be met as we lost so much.

- To Kayla McQuillen: THANK YOU for stopping when you drove past our house and saw the smoke and for calling 911 just minutes before Ginny arrived home and called them. Those couple of minutes were crucial.

- To the Good Samaritan who tried to help Ginny get to our dogs before the fire departments arrived: We don’t know who you are, but we are SO GRATEFUL for your bravery in kicking in the door to the room where our dogs were and trying to find them.

- To the Ashland County Community Foundation, Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce/Leadership Ashland and North Central State College (Organizations that Ginny works with); and Hedstrom and Home Depot (Greg’s employers): THANK YOU for your quick response in making sure we could get back on our feet and organizing efforts to collect donations as well as coordinate meal deliveries to us in the days following the fire and for allowing us to take the necessary time off from work to deal with this tragedy.

- To the Ashland County Sherriff’s Office: THANK YOU for being a drop off location for donations for us and HUGE THANKS to Chief Deputy Carl Reichert for keeping an eye on our property and checking on us routinely to be sure we were doing okay.

- To Spring Meadow Veterinary Clinic: HEARTFELT THANK YOU for taking care of the remains of our beloved pets so we could have them back with us.

- To Spencer and Kaitlyn Dolezal: THANK YOU for organizing the GoFundMe page and online meal delivery schedule for us.

- To Chanda Snyder and Rene Spellman: THANK YOU for organizing fundraisers for us and to all the vendors and visitors who supported those events.

- To Bartter and Sons Excavating, Karper Electric and Firelands Electric Coop: THANK YOU for taking time from other projects to come and get our water, sewer and electric set up for our temporary mobile home.

- AND TO THE ASHLAND COMMUNITY: YOU ARE AWESOME! There are hundreds of people who have supported us through prayers, meals and donations - there isn’t room to list everyone here, but please know we are IMMENSELY GRATEFUL for your prayers, donations and continued caring for us throughout this tragic event. We cannot thank you enough for holding us up during this difficult time and want you to know that WE ARE INCREDIBLY APPRECIATIVE OF ALL OF YOU!

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Greg and Ginny Telego

Hayesville, Ohio

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