Blessed by the Beelers

Published 10:56 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Benny Hayes and wife, Mary Grace had not considered taking in Hurricane Irma evacuees, until they started listening to Lauren Turner and Amy Akin at First United Methodist Church.

After hearing stories of displacement, Hayes decided to open his house on Simmons Circle that was for sale. It wasn’t long until Akin called and told Hayes a family of nine desperately needed to stay there. Hayes met with Sean, his wife and their two sons, while waiting for the other five members of the family to arrive. He gave them the key and showed them where the hot water heater was, how to work their air conditioning unit and went over the other things they may need to know.

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Hayes left with the family safe and sound in their temporary home and was then contacted by Faith. She told Hayes of an elderly couple who was stranded in Bainbridge after their stay ran out at a hotel in Port St. Joe. Hayes knew he had already committed to nine people staying at his home for sale, but felt bad for leaving anyone stranded. He met with the couple to see if they would be capable of staying in his motor home. The couple was Collett, 74, and Richard, 86, Beeler from St. Pete Beach, Florida. The Beelers said they would be able to get in and out of the motor home comfortably and were so appreciative.

Mary Grace was able to cook the Beelers some meals and were happy to see that Richard was able to get around without his wheelchair. Richard suffers from Parkinson’s, but his wife said this trip did him really good and she was happy to see him move about and walk around in the Hayes’ back yard.

The Beelers were ready to pack up and leave Monday, but Hayes stopped them. He wanted to make sure they had electricity and the roads were cleared before they went back. He told them to stay as long as they needed, but on the 23rd he was moving them into the house, because he was going on vacation.

The Beelers were able to leave on Tuesday after a neighbor called and said they had electricity again. When they returned home, they found no damage to their house with only a few limbs to pick up.

“They were super and just really a blessing to us,” Hayes said.

Hayes developed a relationship with the Beelers and is excited to go visit them in December or January. He has cousins down in Tampa, and plans to make a trip of it with his wife.

“We will continue to keep in touch,” Hayes said. “She has our address and knows how to find us.”