Owner Elburn gives up Florida vacation to help tornado-ravaged Kentucky

Tara Treve, owner of Massage Tara Bella in Elburn, often travels to Florida in the winter for a “working vacation” to visit clients who have moved to the Sunshine State.

But after the devastating tornadoes that swept through western Kentucky on Dec. 10, she knew she wanted to skip the trip to Florida and instead visit the hard-hit area to help the storm’s victims.

So Treve, who lives in Batavia, and her neighbor Bryan Rosas asked the community for donations of clothing, personal hygiene products, long-life foods, bottled water, baby items and more. After receiving enough donations to fill three garages, the couple loaded up on a box truck and trailer and hit the road on December 27.

“I’ve never seen anything like what happened. It was like another world,” Treve said of what she saw when she and Rosas arrived in Mayfield, Kentucky, one of the hardest hit areas. “Most of the downtown area was razed to the ground. A lot of low-income houses were razed to the ground. Driving through it was devastating. It was unbelievable. The military was out there. People were living under tarpaulins under their buildings.”

Rosas described the destruction as “eerie” and said it was a “blessing” to be able to help others in need.

“There was so much rubble, the whole center of Mayfield has disappeared and some people were camping in their damaged houses with no electricity,” he said. “But I’ve always been someone to lend a helping hand, and it feels good to contribute and help someone.”

Treve and Rosas spent four days in the area taking their donated goods to churches and fairgrounds used as distribution centers. While there, they worked with other volunteers to help survivors get the items they needed.

She said Mayfield survivors and residents were “kind and courteous” to the outpouring of help from volunteers across the country.

“It’s humbling,” Treve said of her experience. “It makes you grateful for everything you have. It feels good to help others. They were complete strangers who just got together. It was an amazing experience. With everything that is going on in this world, it has given me confidence in humanity restored. You see a lot of bad, but there are so many good people. It reminds us that life is good and there are great people.”

Treve was quick to point out that she and Rosas wouldn’t have been able to help the tornado victims if it weren’t for the generosity of the many Kane County residents who donated money and other goods. She got the news of her trip mainly through social media and was “amazed” at the number of donations they received in less than two weeks.

“The people here are amazing and everyone was so friendly. People really wanted to donate money and give gift cards,” she said. “We are so grateful to our community. We couldn’t have done this without them, and everyone who has donated has played a huge part in helping those in need.”

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