Friday Dec 23 2011
Community rallies to support Tatnall family
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
Auburn family lost father, husband and home all in one year
In 1985 Natalie Tatnall and Bill Tatnall built their dream home together in Auburn. This year Natalie unexpectedly lost both the man and the house she called home. Bill died suddenly of sudden respitory infection syndrome in April and last week, as her and her three children, Adam, Janelle, and Ben, were facing their first Christmas without him, their home caught fire and burned down. Through it all, Natalie has remained strong and resolute to take care of her family. She took over responsibilities at his business, in addition to being the sole parent now. “To be honest with you I had just started coming to grips with the kids’ dad dying. Now I’m back in that fog of not even I look it at as I don’t have a choice. I have to take care of the family, to help the kids stay healthy and happy and deal with the loss of their dad,” Natalie said. “I don’t know how I do it. I just do.” Amidst the devastating losses, the Tatnalls are finding some hope in the community that has rallied around to support them. Four Weimar Hills Middle School students started a spontaneous fundraising effort that has raised $4,000 so far. They are trying to enjoy Christmas despite losing everything in the fire, even family photographs. “It is overwhelming to know there is that many people that want to help,” Natalie said. “We’ll eventually have to replace everything. Red Cross did give us money to purchase some essentials. Backpacks — just everything is gone.” This week has been a blur of errands from meeting with fire inspectors, to going to get what and essentials they can’t live without. The Tatnalls are staying nearby at a friend’s house. Family friends Jeff and Kathy Root, of Meadow Vista, first met the Tatnalls by chance in Bodega Bay when Natalie was pregnant with Ben. They realized they were from the same area and started running into one another around town. Eventually their kids played sports together. Kathy has set up a collection for any photos people may have of the family, while Jeff has done what he can to get the word out to the community. “Everyone we have talked to keeps saying, ‘What can we do?’” Jeff said. “They are going to help to replenish some of the things that insurance won’t cover. I think it’s a strong connection and close knit community we have. I think it’s one of the benefits of living in a rural area like this.” Katylynn Patocs, an eighth grader at Weimar Hills School, is a close friend of Ben’s. She was inspired to start a collection at the school with her friends Mickayla Balser, Courtney Kirkland and Yasmine Aldrich. “I thought it would be needed because of what they lost,” Katylynn said. “So far we raised $4,029. Every student would bring money to the first teacher of the day.” Yasmine’s family lost their home the 49er fire and just recently moved back in. “I know how it feels to lose everything. This I felt was the least we could do. I’ve felt the pain,” Yasmine said. “It would have meant the world to me.” Yasmine said Ben is well-liked by his schoolmates and they wanted to do what they could to support him. “It’s also overwhelming that the community has stepped in to make sure the kids have a Christmas,” Natalie said. “We are staying with very close friends. The kids are happy there. We are going to make the best of Christmas.” Reach Sara Seyydin at firstname.lastname@example.org.