When St. Dominic Catholic High School teacher Andrew Dillon left to visit family in Florida over summer vacation, he expected to come back and start his 34th year teaching Theology and English at the high school. What he came back to was a leaking pipe that flooded his apartment, ruining nearly everything he had to his name.
But through the generosity of his school community and alumni, over $44,000 has been raised in the last two weeks through a GoFundMe campaign to help Dillon get back on his feet.
The 69-year-old Theology and English teacher said that “It’s very, very heartwarming and humbling” to see the donations that have poured in over the last two weeks from students, their families and alumni. “It makes me realize I’ve touched a lot of people,” he said.
After Dillon left in June, the pipe leading to his upstairs bathroom toilet began to leak, and water flooded his basement, bathroom, dining room and two bedrooms. Mold started to accumulate in his apartment and spread to other condos in his building.
“I just wanted to go down and see my family, and I never thought that this would happen,” he said.
Dillon said he lost nearly $150,000 in the accident. Now, he’s uncertain of his future because he planned on using his apartment as his retirement.
In his first 14 years teaching, Dillon was a Brother at various Catholic schools, meaning that he received no income. Because of this, he was relying on the equity of his apartment to be his retirement fund.
The accident has weighed heavily on Dillon since returning home in August. Recently, he made the decision to voluntarily retire from teaching at St. Dominic’s out of concern for his mental health.
Seeing the devastation from the accident, Dillon’s neighbor, Tammy Rogers, started a GoFundMe campaign to help get her neighbor back on his feet.
“It makes me feel good that people are willing to help us,” Rogers said.
The two have been neighbors for 15 years, and she said Dillon has always been a nice and genuine man to her. When she started the donation campaign, Rogers thought she would be lucky to get $10,000. Instead, the goal set of $50,000 has nearly been reached.
“I’m not really surprised because I’ve always known Tammy to be a surprising and caring person,” Dillon said over the phone. “Right back at ya,” Rogers quipped as she sat next to him and held his hand for emotional support during the phone interview.
Rogers said that most of the donations are coming from former students and their families of Dillon. He’s surprised that students he taught as far back as 30 years ago have donated to the cause.
“It’s tremendous,” St. Dominic’s Principal Ronald Martorelli said about watching the school community rally behind Dillon. “He’s had a tremendous impact for literally decades.”
Martorelli said that Dillon has been a wonderful part of the community over the last 30 years and will be remembered fondly.
Even Roger’s 19-year-old daughter, Dayna, donated $150 to the GoFundMe campaign. When her mother asked why she donated so much despite being a college student, Dayna replied, “He’s always been good to me, and I respect him.”
Because of the accident, Tammy had to move out temporarily into a hotel due to the spread of mold into her apartment. Despite this, she said it’s been heartwarming to see so many people help Dillon out.
Seeing this act of kindness has also helped Dillon get through a time of his life that he compared to processing the death of a loved one.
“Their generosity has helped me move forward because there have been moments where I’m tempted to give up,” he said.
This event has also strengthed his faith in God as someone who taught in the Catholic school system for 48 years.
“I just keep thinking to myself ‘With God, all things are possible,’” Dillon said. “I’m going to trust in God deeply in the years I have left because it’s going to be difficult.”
Teary-eyed, Dillon gave a message to those who have supported him: “I will never forget your goodness, and if the opportunity comes my way to do something good for others, I’ll definitely do it. I do really believe God is going to bless them for their generosity because I really believe God judges people for the good they do.”
To donate to Andrew’s GoFundMe, visit gofundme.com/f/5zyjea-help-andrew-rebuild.