The Issaquah Press, our local newspaper, ran an article of an unusually touching “good Samaritan” event. Most of us who live in middle class suburbia probably feel the same way that Angie Allen did when she moved to the Issaquah Highlands. Her children, 4 and 2, “made friends, but in ‘suburbia you kind of just pull into your garage and you politely wave at your neighbors…You might have a talk or conversation here or there.’ ” Tragic circumstances, however, saw a change of heart, so much so that when she moved away to live with relatives, she said ” ‘I almost wish I had stayed there,’…”
Travis Allen had brought his family to the Pacific Northwest because of a job with a concierge medicine company in July 2009. After Halloween he got a bad case of strep throat for which he visited a doctor’s office, and then went home to rest. He didn’t wake up. Concerned neighbors watched as the ambulance lingered for some time.
Mrs. Allen asked neighbor Paul Stephen to look after her children while she spoke with paramedics. Neighbors and a friend of Angie’s congregated at the Stephen’s home. The Allens’ children were understandably stressed, trying to grasp the situation. The adults certainly did their best to calm them, Stephen saying ” ‘You’re realizing that the kids just lost their father and the long-term impact of that…’ ” As a result, the community came together in “an outpouring of support” for the family.
Stephen’s wife and Angie’s friend remained with her through the night, as did another neighbor. And still another picked Angie’s parents up from the airport, while others walked the family pet and prepared meals for them. Deciding it would be best to return to Texas to be with her own family, Angie had to pack up her house, in addition to making funeral arrangements. Unable to sort through and box her husband’s belongings, she allowed the neighbors to help with the difficult task. When Angie returned to Texas to bury her husband, the community she left behind donated boxes and tape, packed the Allen’s household furnishings, and secured a moving company to transport everything. Neighbors also bought Christmas presents for the children so Angie wouldn’t have to deal with holiday shopping. Neighbors who, by chance, happened to be visiting in Texas, babysat the Stephen children during the funeral so that the 21-gun salute to their dad, who’d served in the Air Force, wouldnt frighten them.
Angie returned to Issaquah, inviting about 20 neighbors into her home. She shared the eulogy she’d read at Travis’ funeral. Everyone shed tears, neighbors, now friends, calling Angie a strong woman, and she, in turn, calling them her angels. ” ‘Any cynicism I had evaporated. The outpouring of help and generosity, I was overwhelmed by it. I never expected it…We’ve got to know each other so much better in the midst of this tragedy. They gave me hope and showed me compassion. They really just lifted me up. I just couldn’t have done it without them.’ ”