Joering family mortgage covered in full after assistance from foundation
WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) - The Joering family's home mortgage will be paid in full after they received help from a New York-based foundation.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation was established to honor the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001. Today, the foundation says they honor military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for the United States. The non-profit group from New York, “The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation” flew into town to personally tell the widow of the officer they will pay 100-percent off the family’s mortgage.
“We’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for the last 16 years,” said the foundation CEO Frank Siller.
A crowd packed the chamber halls as Jamie Joering and their girls walked inside City Hall. Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer fought back tears as he talked directly to the young girls about living through daddy’s legacy.
“Always helping, always doing for others, that’s the life he lived,” said Chief Morbitzer.
At one point, Jamie’s youngest daughter sat on her lap to comfort her. One out of the three daughters could not attend because she was training with her father’s K-9 Sam.
“Kind of what Jamie is feeling right now, she just can’t believe this is happening. I said I know this is all so surreal for you because it is, it’s not even real reality yet,” said Siller.
Frank Siller started “The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation” to honor his brother, a firefighter, who was killed on September 11, 2001.
“A few years ago a couple of police officers were assassinated just because they were police officers, they wore the blue uniform,” said Siller during the press conference. “And our foundation made a decision right then and there, that we are going to be there as much as we can for first responders.”
The goal is to help families of first responders who were killed in the line off duty from across the country pay for their housing needs, especially when young children are left behind.
“She’s strong and I know she’s going to be ok, especially with the support from the community over here,” said Siller after he exchanged some words with the officer’s widow.
When loved ones moved outside to the growing memorial where flowers, candles, and other notes have been placed on the officer’s cruiser, Mrs. Joering shed more tears. But it was another reminder that the family is not alone.
“Jamie you can rest assured that we are here,” said Chief Morbitzer.
Apart from the foundation donation, people from across the country donated to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 online fundraiser to help the Joering and Morelli families with medical bills, funeral expenses, housing for relatives and educational resources for children.
The GoFundMe's original goal was $50,000. That goal was quickly surpassed, and, as of Wednesday, the new goal was $500,000. As of 12:30, over $420,000 was raised.
The officer’s family did not want to speak on camera, but we briefly spoke with the widow’s father. He told us he’s very thankful for all the love and support not only from the community but from across the country.
ABC 6/FOX 28 will continue to follow this story.