CENTERBURG — After a fire destroyed the home of Matt and Becky Payne on Jan. 18, the community quickly rallied to help the family.
Even before the last flames were out, friends had offered to help care for the many animals the Paynes consider members of their family.
Six horses, a miniature horse and donkey, three goats, three dogs, several cats and a flock of chickens had to be quickly moved to different homes.
Becky Payne said the horse-loving community she has been a part of for many years, which includes many horse owners, and 4-H’ers, has offered practical and emotional support.
Two of the family’s horses are being cared for by Bridgette and Trey Whetnall; the other four are staying with Sam and Helen Kimpell.
Helen Kimpell said Becky Payne, whom she has known for over 20 years, would surely do the same for her in the same situation.
“There’s no imposing when something like this happens,” Kimpell said Tuesday while looking after the four horses.
Kimpell said the horses had been through an ordeal being so close to the burning house, but they have settled in nicely to their temporary home.
The Paynes take feed to Kimpell and check on their animals regularly, but look forward to being able to put a modular home on their property while they rebuild.
Payne said that process will depend on the weather. The Paynes are staying with friends, Bob and Arlene Griffith, who opened their home the night of the fire. The Paynes never had to stay in a hotel.
Friends have also shown up to help the Paynes look for anything salvageable in the ruins of their house.
“We saved very little,” Payne said.
She said friends she sees every day, as well as people she has not seen in many years, have called to offer help. The tight-knit horse-loving community, clients Payne has sold homes to as a Realtor, and fellow Realtors have all offered help.
Matt and Becky’s daughter, Jordan, a Highland High School student, has been surrounded by supportive friends as well.
When Jordan returned to school after the fire, her fellow students organized a “hat day” fundraiser.
“That was really neat,” said Becky Payne.
The students raised around $600 for Jordan to use to replace belongings lost in the fire, including her beloved guitars.
Two local high school bands will play at a fundraising concert for the Paynes on Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Centerburg Church of Christ.
Seventeen-year-old Dominic Silveous, who attends Centerburg High School, is the lead singer for an alternative band called Rayne the Sky. His band, and a hard core group called I am the Destroyer from Highland, will play at the concert.
Silveous said he was eager to do something to help the Payne family.
“Becky and Matt have been family friends for a long time,” he explained. “Jordan and I have been friends for a couple of years now.
“I felt like it was my job to do something to help,” Silveous said. “I’m excited. It will be cool to take something that we’re good at and get the community involved.”
Beth Shearrow and Cynthia May have arranged a chili dinner to be held at the church at 5 p.m. The concert will begin at 6.
Shearrow said local cooks have been happy to donate chili for the event. Chili dinners will be available for a donation.
For now, the Payne family has to visit its animals at different locations, but Payne said she looks forward to having them all in one place again.
Known for her generosity to others, Payne has been given a chance to be on the receiving end of the help of others during this difficult time.
“We’ve really appreciated the outpouring from everyone,” she said Tuesday. “We’ve always loved Centerburg and Knox County, but now we really know why.”