Community Galvanizes After Tragedy
Aug 23, 2016 03:22PM ● Published by Sandra Osborn
Ribbons were tied in honor of the Jennifer and Brooklyn Lambourne. –Sandra Osborn
Gallery: Community Galvanizes After Tragedy [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
On Aug. 3 South Jordan residents Jennifer Lambourne, 37, and her daughter Brooklyn Mae, 11, tragically lost their lives at Bear Lake while attempting to save a younger family member.
News of the loss spread quickly throughout the Daybreak Community where the Lambournes lived. Jennifer was a well-regarded first-grade teacher at Eastlake Elementary, one of two primary schools in Daybreak. Brooklyn had been a beloved student at the school.
Their grief observed, countless members of the community sprang into action.
“We live in a very close-knit community,” Eastlake Elementary School PTA President Tanya Noreen Peters said. “When a loss happens such as this tragedy, the community is galvanized.”
Within hours, pink ribbons were tied on the trees lining the streets and surrounding area of Eastlake Elementary. The year-round school already had three-quarters of the teachers and students in attendance.
“Our first concern was for the teachers at Eastlake,” Peters said. “Many of them had heard the news and rushed out the door to school that Thursday morning. The tracks on had been in session only about a week. We wanted to show them our support during this time of grief, so we coordinated to bring lunch to all 40 teachers. The lunch gave them the opportunity to congregate and be together in shared support.”
Almost immediately after the news, Melinda Ekins, a neighbor and mother of one of Jennifer’s former students, set up a Go Fund Me page to help the family pay for medical and funeral expenses. The community gave quickly and generously, collecting more than $45,000 in a few days. Many donors did not know the Lambourne family personally but offered their condolences and support.
In addition, the Eastlake PTA organized a fundraising night at the South Jordan Chick-fil-A restaurant for Aug. 16. Chick-fil-A pledged to donate 20 percent of the sales during the fundraiser to the Lambourne family. The community came to support the cause. The restaurant was packed and the drive-thru had the longest lines patrons said they had ever seen.
For the future, the school and PTA plan to find a compilation of books that both Jennifer and Brooklyn liked and dedicate them in a section of the library.
“Ten years from now, children who attend Eastlake will know that a tragic loss happened to us and that we still remember,” Peters said.
Members of the LDS Oquirrh Lake 7th Ward and other neighbors stepped up to meet the immediate needs of the family by providing dinners night after night. They also formed groups to help with the funeral services and the post-interment luncheon.
A combined choir of more than 70 children, two violinists, a pianist and a soloist came together to perform the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s arrangement of the song “A Child’s Prayer” at the funeral service. Children from the neighborhood, former students of Jennifer, friends of Brooklyn and many more from their church ward and school participated in the choir. The school granted permission for all children who wished to attend the funeral to leave school early.
It was not without effort, however, that this combined choir came to be.
“The family had requested ‘A Child’s Prayer,’ but we had trouble finding the music,” Teresa Akagi, chorister for the combined choir, said.
“After searching everywhere, digitally and otherwise, I knocked on Andrew Unsworth’s door, one of the organists for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and his wife answered the door,” Akagi said. “When I expressed my request, his wife said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but I just got the music yesterday.’”
“During rehearsal on Wednesday, little Matthew Helwig came to me with tears in his eyes and said, ‘I’m really going to miss Brooklyn.’ It was really emotional for a lot of the kids,” Akagi added.
Josh Lambourne, Jennifer’s husband and Brooklyn’s father, expressed his immense gratitude for the many prayers and service rendered to his family.
“I am grateful for the generosity of so many – for everyone who has reached out, lifting me up and helping me stand,” he said. “I am grateful for so much goodness that has come from tragedy. It gives me hope that people can be good.”