When Stan Gregory left for New Jersey to help victims of Superstorm Sandy, he couldn't have known he'd come home with some new friends.
Friends he now considers part of the family.
Their bond is so strong in fact, that despite the miles between them, they made it a point to spend this Thanksgiving together.
They are an unlikely pair. Stan Gregory, a self-employed insurance agent in Evansville, and Lisa Wadel, a caterer from Little Ferry, New Jersey, close to 900 miles away.
But soon after Hurricane Sandy swept across the east coast, their very different paths crossed when Stan showed up on Lisa's street and started grilling.
"I just got upset about what I was seeing on the TV," Stan said. "The news was all bad and just something overwhelmed me about trying to think about a basic need."
With all the damage and power outages, that need was a big one.
Especially in Lisa's neighborhood.
"It was like looking at a river in front of the house," she recalled. "I mean, it came up to, I'd say half of the garage covered up to the hood of my vehicle."
That first day, Stan fed 150 people, then Lisa and her husband Joe joined in.
Just a few weeks later, it's as though they've known each other for years.
"Stan wakes me up every morning around six or seven, whether I'm here or at home," Lisa said.
"It just feels natural for us to be together, it's like family," said Stan.
And that's why they chose to spend this Thanksgiving, together.
A chance to see Stan's roots, to meet his wife Susan, and to make new memories away from all the destruction.
"I just feel like I've made a lifelong family separate from my own," Lisa said. "And this one was done in faith. Faith and community, Stan taught us community all over again."
"I just wanted to help someone and what happened when I got there was like just an amazing, just an amazing experience with people that have changed my life forever," said Stan.
People like Joe and Lisa Wadel, who prove friendship and family, can come, even in the most unlikely of ways.
Stan and his wife say they are still working on more ways to help those in need, which includes getting some donated vehicles to them.
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