This is a beautiful example of a community coming together to help each other in times of need.
In late August 2016, a beloved fifth-grade teacher passed away suddenly in Greenwood, Arkansas.
Jennifer Nelms taught at East Hills Middle School. "She just ... took whatever she was thrown and just spun it positively," Karen Benjamin, a teacher who worked in the same classroom as Nelms, told KFSM Channel 5.
Her coworkers say the young teacher had been diagnosed with lupus a couple of years ago, but her death from complications associated with the disease was unexpected. Benjamin said Nelms went home for the weekend not feeling well, thinking all she needed was a little rest. But she died the following day, leaving behind a husband and two sons.
The entire community came together and wore purple ribbons in her honor. Her fellow teachers were heartbroken, and they wanted to make sure everyone could pay their respects.
But the teachers weren't going to be able to attend the funeral because the district was low on substitute teachers.
That's when the community rallied around them to help.
About 15 police officers and firefighters, including the city's police and fire chiefs, substitute-taught in the teachers’ classrooms that day so everyone could attend Nelms’ funeral.
Looking back through my session with Jennifer Nelms, this photo stands out the most to me. This is how I remember Jennifer. Always laughing, Always smiling. I know we laughed the entire photoshoot. Jennifer loved her family. She loved her husband and loved her boys deeply. My heart aches for the Nelms family and our community. Please continue to lift this sweet family up in prayer. Hair & Makeup: @ohhellotiffany The rest of her session can be found here: http://kristinathomasphotography.pixieset.com/jennifernelms-4190708/ Friends and family, you may share or download these photos as your wish. Love, Kristina
A photo posted by KRISTINA THOMAS PHOTOGRAPHY (@kristinathomasphotography) on
For Greenwood law enforcement and emergency teams, it was a no-brainer to step in.
Nelms' school recently sent out a big thank-you to the teams, explaining how much the gesture meant to the teachers and the kids:
The entire post reads:
"The staff and administration would like to give a huge thanks to the members of the Greenwood Police Department, Greenwood Fire Department, and East Hills PTO for all your support today covering classes and supervising our students during lunch and recess. Special thanks to the PTO for providing lunch to our staff, law enforcement officers, and firemen. We are blessed to have such an awesome and supportive community!"
This is a beautiful example of a community stepping up to help each other in times of need.
“Ms. Nelms was a supporter of the fire and police department,” Greenwood Fire Chief Stewart Bryan told KFSM Channel 5. “She's been a supporter of us for many years. Now that the school's in need, we wanted to help the school out. We wanted to make sure all the teachers were available to attend the funeral.”
Greenwood Police Chief William Dawson said it was an honor to be in a classroom that Nelms taught in. "She was a great person. Obviously loved by a lot of people and the students ... she's gonna be greatly missed."
A tragic death like this is always hard to process, but often the best way to move forward is to allow everyone to come together and grieve. Sometimes all it takes is a little cross-community support to give people hope.