LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Gwendolyn Christon has worked in this building for most of her life -- working at the previous store, then buying and opening this Isom IGA. Since the store was badly flooded the community has been stepping in to help bring the store back.
Christon says, "You know how the old saying is, 'you don't know what's important to you until it’s gone?' So, now that we know that it's missing, we miss each other, we want to see each other -- we'll be back."
Now, central Kentucky Priest Father Jim Sichko is donating $20,000 to Christon and her family and $10,000 worth of Amazon gift cards to the store's employees. He says the generosity of others helped make this possible.
"People understand that what I do or what God does through me goes directly to the individuals and that makes a difference,” says Father Sichko.
A lot of repairs still need to be made at this Isom IGA, but the Christon family says that this $20,000 donation is a step in the right direction.
"After the encouragement from Father Jim -- and the encouragement of all of these people who've shown up just to be part of saying I want it back. It is, it's different, I’m ready, I’m ready to get out there and fight the battle to bring it back,” says Christon.
Father Sichko says that acts like this one serve as a reminder of the goodness in humanity and the power of communities coming together.
"We are called to represent that good. Are we gonna at times squabble? Of course, we are but we're one big family."
After going through so much herself, Christon still has this message of hope for others in eastern Kentucky. “We're family, we love each other -- just dig down deep and say I’m coming back. Stay here with us and fight the battle with us."
This eastern Kentucky community is continuing to find support through this difficult time. Gwendolyn Christon says she hopes to get the Isom IGA back open by this January. She's told us that it's more than just a grocery store but the heart of Isom’s community.