I have worked for Comcast since 2001, and during that time, my family has participated in Comcast Cares Day whenever we can. Giving back on Comcast Cares Day always gives me an incredible sense of pride – pride that I work for a company that encourages me to volunteer, and pride in the work we’re able to accomplish together.

Last year, though, Comcast Cares Day was quite different.

Instead of spending the day helping others, it was my friends and neighbors on the receiving end of the help, and I will always remember the compassion and generosity my coworkers showed for my hometown.

That hometown is Washington, Ill., about three hours south of Chicago, and Nov. 17, 2013, Washington was changed forever. That morning, an F4 tornado struck the city, destroying hundreds of homes and displacing thousands of people. Thankfully, my family’s home was just outside the path of the storm, but many of our neighbors’ houses were damaged beyond repair. Tragically, my next door neighbor was one of three people who died.

The biggest challenge in the immediate aftermath of the storm was connecting fire and rescue teams with people who needed their help. A team of Comcast technicians set up "Storm Central" in our nearby Peoria office, and offered WiFi at emergency shelters to connect families with their loved ones. We also set a goal for ourselves that we would restore service to every house with power before Thanksgiving. Our techs worked day and night, but we achieved our goal and gave the town back some of the normalcy lost to the tornado.

Restoring service was crucial to starting over, but many of us wanted to do more. It was in those first few days afterward that we decided to dedicate our Comcast Cares Day to helping Washington rebuild.

When Comcast Cares Day arrived five months later, more than 200 Comcast volunteers descended on the town. We partnered with a local church to help homeowners and local businesses continue the cleanup by clearing debris from lawns, repairing subfloors, and trimming damaged trees.

It’s been more than a year, and Washington is starting to look more like the town I grew up in, with more homes up than down, and families moving back every day. We will never be the same as we were before the tornado, but the outpouring of kindness I saw in the days, weeks, and months after left a lasting impression on me. This year, Comcast Cares Day is on April 25th, and I look forward to passing on the amazing gift I received last year.