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Monday, May 2, 2016

A chance to help a neighbor in need

Thursday, March 5, 2009

After losing their home to a tornado in 2006, Miki and Dave Morrow hired a local contractor to rebuild. After giving the contractor $58,000, he never returned to finish the project. The contractor left exposed insulation inside the home, no kitchen cabinets or counter tops and no heat or air. The only heat the family has is a wall heater the Sharp County Sheriff's Department brought them during the ice storm. Photo/Amanda Powers
Due to all of the faulty things going on in the world, it seems people's hopes and dreams have been clouded with fears and anger. But, just when people need it the most the sun tends to always come out.

Miki and Dave Morrow are, in many ways, the sun. Although their story is not a happy one, it is inspirational. And, after all they have been through, they still have that everlasting faith and love for mankind.

The Morrows had three children of their own, but in spite of their ability to have children, they decided to become foster parents. The couple started taking in children in 1985, since then, in addition to all of the children they fostered, they adopted five children into their family.

The Morrows lived in Indiana when they became foster parents. The first child they adopted was Aaron. Aaron now lives in Sharp County with his family. Unlike many of the children they have cared for, Aaron only suffers from severe asthma.

When Aaron was about to turn two, Miki said she asked him what he wanted for his birthday. "Aaron told me he wanted a brother like him," Miki said. "What he meant was a black brother, one just like him." She said she got a laugh out of it and didn't think much more about the request Aaron had made.

"The social worker called and told me they were bringing me a little boy, they continued to tell me all of the problems he had," Miki said. "Not thinking anything of it, I just said, 'Bring him, we'll take him.'" She said she and her husband didn't care what ailments the children had or what color they were, if they needed a place to go they were welcomed.

"When they brought him (the foster child) to the house Aaron threw his hands in the air and said, 'My birthday brother!'" Miki explained that the child that had been placed with them was black, so Aaron thought that was his birthday present. "We had a hard time convincing him that the boy was not his birthday present!"

Aaron's "birthday brother" was Tristian. Miki said when they took Tristian in he was 6 months old. The couple eventually adopted him as well. Tristian had Cerebral Palsy, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper Active Disorder), and PICA.

PICA is a disorder that is often associated with developmental disorders. The disorder causes an appetite for things that are generally non-edible items. Miki said Tristian would eat things like drywall, so they had to watch him very closely.

"They (doctors) told us he (Tristain) wouldn't live past three, he couldn't be potty trained and that he would never walk or talk," she said. "He proved them wrong!"

Miki said she took him to several different doctors until she found one that would help her with Tristain's problems. "I wasn't going to accept what the other doctors were saying."

She said aside from the time he spent in physical therapy, she and Dave spent an additional five hours per day working with Tristain. Eventually, he defied odds and was able to do the things doctors said he never could.

Three other children were blessed by Miki and Dave as well. Richard, Erica and Charlie were fortunate enough to officially become part of the family.

Miki said she and Dave stopped taking in children after Dave became disabled. In 1998, Dave moved from Indiana to Sharp County. Miki followed in 2000, after her teaching contract was up.

Following her move to the area, Miki became a teacher at the head start in Evening Shade and an assistant teacher in Highland. She said she stopped teaching after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.

"I did experimental radiation," Miki said. "I got radiation twice a day for five days in a row." While Miki said the radiation didn't make her very ill, the time away from her family did. She stayed in Jonesboro, at the cancer house, while Dave stayed home with the kids.

So far, Miki said the treatments have been a success. She went in for a scan Feb. 25, and unless she hears otherwise, she is in remission.

But, the good news was soon overridden by devastation. September 2006, the Morrow's house was destroyed by a tornado. "We had just added on and the addition was the only thing left," Miki said.

Miki was in Indiana when the tornado hit, but Dave and the kids were at the house. She said they took shelter on the floor and under beds.

"It (the tornado) busted the foundation, blew out all of the windows and took the roof off," she said.

After the tornado, Miki said she and Dave hired a local contractor to rebuild their home. And, while the couple thought they were on the right track to rebuilding, the contractor quickly proved them otherwise.

Miki said the construction on the house was started, but never finished. Miki and Dave gave the contractor $58,000 for the project, and to this day have not seen him back at their home.

The outside of their home is a beautiful cabin, but after entering through the front door it is obvious it is unfinished. There is insulation exposed, the ceiling that is finished Miki said Dave did. But that's not all, the kitchen has no cabinets or counter tops, and there is no trim on any of the doors or windows.

Due to the unfinished home, the family has lived without heat and air. Much of their furniture was given to them by friends. "He took all of our money," Miki said. "We had nothing left to buy furniture or anything."

And in spite of their experience, they once again turned to their faith. "Dave and I decided not to go after him," Miki said. "Dave said, 'God will punish him.'"

As hard as it seems to believe, things got even worse for the Morrow family. Their first adopted son, Aaron, and his wife were expecting twins. Miki said the whole family was excited.

But, the twins came early, they were only 24 weeks into gestation when they were born in November 2008. This dimmed the excitement rapidly. The babies, Alivia and Gracie, did not make it. Miki said, Alivia lived two days and died Nov. 4. Gracie fought for 20 days, but lost her fight Nov. 20.

Just three months after Miki and Dave lost their grandbabies, they were hit with what seemed like another train.

On Feb. 4, Miki said Dave was helping dress Tristain, nothing out of the ordinary. They were still without power because of the ice storm. But, while Dave was dressing him, Tristain slumped over in his chair.

"We thought he was having a seizure," Miki said. She explained that Tristain had a history of seizures and was on medication for them. "We did what we normally do, but now that I look back it wasn't a seizure."

With tears streaming down her face Miki said, "He had a massive heart attack." Miki said she called for help, but when help got there Tristain was gone. The boy who was only supposed to live three years, died at the age of 21.

So, within three months, Miki and Dave buried two grandchildren and a son. This is in addition to her cancer, the tornado and the contractor taking their money.

After all of this Miki's friends say she is still the first in line to help someone else. "Miki and Dave just give so much and never ask for anything," Miki's supervisor, Sara Cole, said. "I think it's time we (the community) give back to them."

Miki works part-time at Sharp County Dispatch where her co-workers have become her friends. Cole said not only have the Morrows taken in these children over the years, but they also do everything they can to help their neighbors.

Tess South, another co-worker, and Cole have set up an account for the Morrows at FNBC. "The fund is called the Morrow Family Benefit Fund and donations can be made at any FNBC location," South said.

"We will also accept any materials that would help them finish their house," South said. They desperately need air conditioner units to keep them cool this summer, as well."

Anyone interested in making a donation can call Sharp County Dispatch at 870-994-2211. South said to leave a message with a name and number, noting that it is for the Morrow family.

"They (Dave and Miki) would never ask for help," South said. "But, with all they have been through, they have still found time to help others -- they need this."

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