Mid-Michigan mom didn’t hesitate to help with aftermath of Hurricane Ian

It was one of the toughest decisions Jennifer Gruesbeck has ever had to make - should she put her life in mid-Michigan as a mom and Covenant medical assistant o
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 11:34 AM EST|Updated: 17 hours ago
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MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) - It was one of the toughest decisions Jennifer Gruesbeck has ever had to make - should she put her life in mid-Michigan as a mom and Covenant medical assistant on hold and head to Florida to help with Hurricane Ian relief or not?

“The first thing I saw was a need and I felt it in my heart,” Gruesbeck said.

That’s when she knew she had to go, but she worried about how her kids, 11-year-old Paityn and 8-year-old Oliver, would feel.

“One of their questions was, ‘why you? Why can’t someone else go?’ I had to give them a life lesson that there is not always going to be someone else,” Gruesbeck said.

That’s something Paityn understood, even though her mom would miss her 11th birthday and her figure skating competition.

“I was a bit worried at first, but I realized it’s OK because she’s out saving people,” Paitlyn said.

For two weeks, Gruesbeck was out saving people with a group called Project Hope. It’s a global organization that helps in times of need wherever and however possible.

The need on Pine Island was overwhelming. That’s where Ian’s 155 mph winds and 12-foot storm surge ripped up trees, telephone poles, roofs, and demolished homes and businesses.

Gruesbeck was shocked when she arrived.

“That’s where we found the most people because they were trying to rebuild or recover things from their yard and had a lot of wounds, needed medical attention, and medication called in because they lost them during the hurricane,” Gruesbeck said.

Despite the immense loss, what surprised Gruesbeck the most was many of those affected just wanted a listening ear or a hug.

“You don’t have to be skilled, but sometimes giving back to someone who could never repay you, it makes a difference in your person and the lessons you are able to get from that are invaluable,” Gruesbeck said.

When mom was away, Paityn and Oliver still felt mom nearby when they would read the loving reminders Gruesbeck wrote all over the house to her little sweethearts. They read “hugs and kisses,” “Momma loves you,” “You are amazing,” and “be home soon.”

When Gruesbeck returned, she received a ton of hugs and kisses.

“I was so happy, I missed her so much,” Oliver said.

Gruesbeck also taught a lesson solely by her actions.

“I just love helping people out and doing what she did would make me feel so good,” Paitlyn said.

Gruesbeck reflects on how she heard the call to help, answered it, and won’t hesitate to do it again.

“It really hit home that we are so lucky and to be there for others if it’s needed,” she said.