What: Memorial Service and Celebration
When: Memorial service, 7-9 p.m. Friday, April 27; celebration 1-6 p.m. Saturday, April 28
Where: The Hullander farm, 10944 London Lane, Apison
About one year ago, the remnants of Hamilton County Trustee Bill Hullander's farm buildings were tossed across the fields around his Apison home.
In two weeks, the freshly rebuilt barns will be home to a service to remember those tornadoes and a celebration of recovering in spite of them.
"People here have sparked up. They're building houses. A lot of folks have bent over backward to help each other," Hullander said. "We want to celebrate that, not focus on the suffering."
Over the last year, Hullander and a group of a dozen or so church leaders, social service workers and community members have been quietly meeting every few weeks to find ways to help heal the tornado-stricken Apison community and the Cherokee Valley Road area, which lie next to each other and where one tornado killed 15 people.
The group has raised about $41,000, which they've funneled into rebuilding homes, buying new appliances for victims and coordinating volunteer work, among other things.
The last several meetings have been different. Instead of sifting through forms detailing unmet needs, the group has planned ways to mark the disaster's one-year anniversary.
On April 27, a candlelight vigil will be held at Hullander's farm, where the group will unveil an 8-foot-tall memorial with each victim's name engraved in stone.
The event on April 28 will be a party, organizers said, with music performances and games all afternoon. First responders and volunteers will be honored, they said, and tables will be set up where storm victims can sign up for ongoing support, register for weather radios and take home saplings to plant where their old trees once stood.
"After one year, this gives us a chance to come together as a community of people who wanted to be a part of rebuilding," said Tony Dahlberg, executive director of The Samaritan Center, which has been integral in recovery efforts.
"It is a part of that healing process."