The story made national news. A young man and three others suddenly went missing in our sleepy Bucks County, PA, neighborhood. This shocked the entire community, then it became even more shocking when we learned one of the teens was our neighbor. What do you do when a neighbor is going through an unspeakably tragic circumstance? It can be difficult to figure out, because while it’s well intentioned, too much ‘help’ can often be counterproductive.
That’s how my wife and I felt after Dean Finocchiaro went missing a earlier this month.
When something like this hits close to home, your heart can’t help but break for these parents. As they waited for news on their beloved son, we wondered if the neighborhood was rallying around them, or like us, keeping an arms length in fear of making things worse on them. We took an educated guess and concluded they had support from family and immediate friends and neighbors, and settled for continued prayers for their family. It still didn’t sit well, as we wondered if there was a chance everyone was thinking the same thing and thus, doing nothing.
Sadly, the news every parent fears most came true. Their son had been tragically and senselessly murdered, along with the three other men. Our community was shocked, and I can only imagine the devastation this family is going through. People were helping them and ministering to them, but it was still frustrating that there was no real good way to just let the family know that they are loved and that we were all here for them.
He never failed to make everyone laugh.. I'll never forget how happy grandmom got when he'd stop over and sit and talk with her for hours. She's probably so happy he's with her now.
Not long after the shocking news, we were coming home from running some errands, and notice something immediately. Yellow ribbons.
They were everywhere. On the stop signs, and on every single mailbox on our street. There are hundreds of homes packed into our little neighborhood, and it was quite a moving site to see. Especially knowing that every time Dean’s parents come home, they will feel the love, thoughts and prayers of an entire community. A simple gesture, sure, but a powerful one, too.
I took a drive down the street and turned the camera on to capture a little glimpse of it. I happened to see a women pushing around a cart filled with yellow ribbons, handing them out to any who wanted to place one on their mailbox or light post. As you can see from the video, nearly every single home has one. Pretty awesome that the response was near unanimous – makes me think everyone else in the neighborhood felt exactly as my wife and I did.
I’m thankful for the person who came up with this idea, as she gave everyone the perfect way to let this family know they are loved – and no one had to impose on their time and their grieving space. I pray that this gesture will help inspire others around the globe look for simple ways to bring communities and people together. We’re stronger that way. And no one should ever have to endure a tragedy like this and feel alone.
Continued prayers for this family.
Here’s a glimpse of the street decorated in ribbons (apologies on the video quality, but be sure to check out all the mailboxes and street signs!):