COMO - Within days, efforts were underway to assist the family of Jeremy Wofford, the band director at Como-Pickton High School whose Royse City home was destroyed when a string of tornadoes ripped through the area on April 3.
Just a few weeks later, citizens had organized the Como-Pickton Spring Festival, designed to encourage local businesses to donate objects to help provide carnival-like booths and a jazz dinner with one-act performance, as well as bring in donations from attendees.
According to Jace Sturgill, Como-Pickton High School’s drum major and one of the leading figures in helping organize the festival, these efforts helped raise $2,500 at the May event.
For Wofford, the community response is beyond words.
“First, it just kind of inspires me to want to be a better person. Just the fact that anyone cares enough for other people to do something like that is just amazing,” Wofford said. “I had no idea that people cared for our family that strongly and it’s just great to see that. I can’t put anything into words to describe how emotionally it feels. All I can really say is a very strong, heart-felt thank you.”
The Woffords are in the process of rebuilding their home from the ground up at the very location they moved to in 2006. In fact, the destruction left behind by the early April storm was just three days from the family’s sixth anniversary in the neighborhood.
Fortunately neither Jeremy, his wife nor two sons were at the house at the time.
“I figured that once I actually had friends and not family calling to tell me that something had happened to the house I figured it was probably going to be bad once I actually got back into the area… It was pretty much the way they described. Pretty bad,” Wofford chuckled. “No one was describing anything good. That’s the bad part about it.”
Despite all the challenges, Wofford says his family has been optimistic about what lies ahead, referencing their strong faith in God. He added that strong family support has also played a major role in the road to recovery, and he is very appreciative and proud of his students.
“The way the students, my students, came together and just kind of took on this fundraising effort all on their own and just kind of made it grow out of their own imagination and strong will and personal leadership and accountability; it was great to see them do that.”
Students at Como-Pickton High School have a strong respect for Mr. Wofford, which stems from the instructor’s dedication in the classroom. As noted by Jace Sturgill in an April interview with KETR, Wofford continued to make the trip to and from school in the days immediately following the storm.
“He’s received in extremely high regard. Again, he drives an hour to work each day just to teach at our school. And since he’s the only music director, he conducts the high school band, all the junior high bands, the jazz band and the choir.”
Since the tornado, the Woffords have spent some of their time with his mother-in-law nearby, and have most recently been staying at an apartment in Rockwall while their home is being rebuilt.
“Personally, I’m hoping to be passing out candy on my front porch by Halloween,” Wofford said, stating that could be a stretch given that contractors have informed him construction would be complete by mid-November.
The family of four was one of dozens of Texans negatively impacted by the April 3 storms that produced a confirmed 17 tornadoes. But perhaps the most important number is zero, as none of the tornadoes resulted in loss of life.