ERLANGER, Ky. — A week after a Northern Kentucky woman lost her life in a traffic crash over the holidays, her family still wasn't sure how they were going to pay for funeral and burial services.
Enter Fr. John Sterling, of St. Barbara Church in Erlanger.
"New Year's Day, I said, 'OK, God, I know you are calling me to do something more, so please put it in front of me," Sterling told WCPO. "I saw the story of the family...and saw that they needed help to give her a respectful burial."
Now, Sterling has offered to open his church to the Kinney family as they mourn the abrupt loss of 56-year-old Jeanie.
Sterling said he learned of the family's tribulation after seeing WCPO 9's coverage of the Dec. 28 crash that took Kinney's life on Burlington Pike in Florence. Just before 7 p.m. that evening, emergency crews responded to the scene near Woodspoint Drive where a driver reportedly had struck two pedestrians.
Kinney, who was out walking the area to pick up dinner, was one of those people injured in the crash; she later died from those injuries at St. Elizabeth Hospital Florence.
According to family members, Kinney was living without a home at the time of the crash, residing in a hotel nearby with her husband and son after their Covington residence had been condemned.
"She was an angel," said her husband, Dallas Willis. "There's no one out there in the world but her."
Because of financial challenges, they were afraid they would not be able to lay their mother to rest, according to Kinney's son, Christopher Kinney. That prompted him and his siblings to create a GoFundMe drive to cover the costs of her sudden and unexpected funeral needs
"That's what Mom wanted. She was highly against being cremated," he told WCPO.
Christopher Kinney called Sterling's intervention "amazing."
"It really is, to see that there is people out there that still actually care about people," he said.
After a tumultuous year like 2020, Sterling said, he wants the gesture to send a message of hope.
"Right now, any little thing that people can do to help out other people. It seems like one of the things that the pandemic has taught us is to look out for each other," he said.
Christopher Kinney said that with the assistance from St. Barbara Church, the money raised by the GoFundMe will go toward the burial, headstone and financial support for Jeanie's youngest son and husband, who were still living in the hotel as of Monday, Jan. 4.
Find more information on the family's GoFundMe fundraiser here.