Community helps woman rebuild after plane crash into her house

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- It's been four years since a small plane crashed in the fog into a house in East Palo Alto, sending debris everywhere and residents running for cover. Three passengers on the plane died. The home was destroyed and it's been difficult for the owner to bounce back. But now friends are mobilizing to give her a fresh start. It's a story you'll only see on ABC7 News.

The occupant of the house is Lisa Jones and a chalk message on the front sidewalk that says "Lisa, you are loved," speaks volumes. That love motivated a virtual army of volunteers to rebuild her house, which will undergo final inspection on Tuesday.

This is a dream come true for Jones, thanks to some very generous and caring people.

Four years ago, a small plane crashed into her house after making a wrong turn and hitting power lines after take-off from nearby Palo Alto Airport. That single event changed her life. It not only destroyed her home, but also robbed her of her livelihood as a licensed day care operator.

"She had 14 kids that she would work with to help learn to read and write," said fundraiser Maryann Ackley. "It was just amazing to see what Lisa did. And she was always someone who gave back."

That's when friends banded together to raise money and to enlist help from Rebuilding Together Peninsula, a non-profit group with 25 years of know-how, working with contractors and volunteers. It's expertise Jones didn't have.

"To be able to find the contractors, to be able to vet them and to be able to track their progress and keep the project on track," said Cari Pang Chen with Rebuilding Together Peninsula. "It would have just delayed things that much longer."

Volunteers from Sacred Heart School in Atherton and many others worked with contractors to rebuild the five bedroom house.

"They've never picked up a paint brush before, but they picked up on that pretty quick and were eager to help out," said general contractor Erik Bergstrom. "They donated a lot of their summer vacation time to help us out."

The grassroots project was able to raise $280,000. Suppliers, trade unions, and builders provided $100,000 in donated goods and in-kind services.

"This week, Lisa is going to be able to move back into her home," said Seana O'Shaughnessy with Rebuilding Together Peninsula. "And being able to move back in is just the goal we've had for this entire year, and we are all thrilled."

But this is only phase one. Phase two will be creating a new play area with new exercise equipment so Jones can get back to what she loves most -- nurturing children.

"They just came on and said, Lisa, you don't have to worry about this this that and the other, and they just kept me going," Jones said.

A great example how a community that cares can help a person in need bounce back from a nightmare.
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