Donations for the family who lived in the now-destroyed Cook Historic Barn are flooding in, yet more is needed.
Teresa Cook said she is overwhelmed by community’s generosity.
“This community is so loving and so giving. It was nothing I’d ever heard of or expected,” she said.
The neighbors, too, are grieving, Cook said.
“People come by here and they start crying. They say, ‘I used to play here as a child.’ I say, ‘I used to play here as a child, too,’ ” Cook said.
But the 113-year-old barn wasn’t just a play place or even just a barn. For the last year, Cook has been slowly turning it into a home, living in an upstairs apartment. This is where Cook, her 4-year-old son, a 3-year-old daughter and their father began a new life, living off the land, growing their own vegetables and raising chickens.
She had a small herd of Nigerian dwarf goats on order, due for delivery in the spring. That’s been put on hold, Cook said.
Meanwhile, the parents of Broderick Montessori School in Dana Point, where 4-year-old Gianluca goes to preschool, and friends of Ocean Hills Community Church have blanketed the young family with clothes, toys, gift cards and, well, blankets.
Craig Stirling, director of the Lighthouse Foundation of California, which operates several ministries worldwide and the Out of Africa Thrift Shop in Capistrano Beach, has offered a Capo Beach house as temporary housing for Cook and her family.
“It’s a gorgeous home It’s way nicer than we’re used to,” she said. “That’s really a lovely thing.”
Stirling said he was prompted to offer the home, which was only recently donated to Lighthouse, out of love for Jesus.
"Inviting a family to live. that's nothing. It's just normal. I don't want any credit. I'm a simple man. God has blessed us with a lot of resources," Stirling said. "It's what a Christian should do."
Envisioning the home that once was, Cook makes mental notes of all the possessions that are now gone: scissors, notepads, the coffee maker and grinder.
“I need to build back the home for the kids, so they can have a sense of normalcy,” she said.
To facilitate donations for the family, Cook’s sister Natalie Cook Powers has set up a website. She plans to include regular updates about the needs, the future of the barn and a blog so that the family may thank the community.
The site also includes a flyer people can print out to pass out to friends and organizations.