Rochester rallies to support residents in need

By Andrea Ray | Jul 10, 2017
Alex, Jay and Nathan Tobin

Rochester — Rochester resident Jason Tobin and his family were eating dinner on the Fourth of July when they heard a popping sound.

“People had been shooting fireworks,” Tobin explained, noting that the popping sound wasn’t necessarily surprising. “But these pops sounded different.”

When he went to investigate the noise, Tobin found that the kitchen was hot and smelled strange.

"That was it," he reflected. "We all ran out. The house went up in flames in five minutes."

Tobin’s wife, Lisa, and children 11-year-old Jason (“Jay”), 9-year-old Alex, and 7-year-old Nathan later learned that the popping sound they heard was due to an issue with the home’s electrical system.

The fire “climbed up the wall from my workshop, to the attic and the walls in the boys' room,” Tobin said.

Help arrived at their County Road house immediately.

"The Rochester Police and Fire Department was there within five minutes," Tobin said. "We're far away from everyone. We were just amazed."

But the house was heavily damaged by smoke, particularly in the back of the house, where the attic and the boys' bedroom was.

The family lost the majority of the belongings stored in the attic, was well as the childrens’ clothes and toys.

Tobin says it will be a year to 18 months before everyone can move back in, if they can move back in at all -- an insurance company is still evaluating the damage.

But the community has rallied to get the Tobins back on their feet. It took only a phone call for a support network to form and swing into action.

The Tobins are active in Old Rochester Youth Little League (ORRYLL). When coaches Nathan Mendes and Dave Nelson heard what happened, they knew they had to step in.

An email was sent.

"I started the original email looking for donations," Mendes explained. "That email was put up on Facebook and then it became a GoFundMe."

Shanna Gianelis of Wareham, on behalf of Lisa Tobin, operates the GoFundMe. In Rochester, Mendes and Nelson receive and coordinate donations for the family.

"I've received at least 20 bags of clothes," Mendes said of the steady flow of donations. "I can't even think about how many gift cards there are. The response has been tremendous."

Mendes can be reached at 508-509-0881, while Dave Nelson can be reached at 617-230-3472.

The GoFundMe page's goal of $5,000 in fundraising was met almost immediately. As of July 12, 68 people had raised $6,075. The page had only been up for five days, and donations are still coming in.

Many people who donated offered messages of support.

"Keep the faith and know that you have a strong team to support you and the kids during this difficult time," wrote Tisha Radek.

Additionally, parents from Rochester Memorial School, which the children attend, are organizing a carnival-themed fundraiser scheduled for August 13 from 1-4 p.m. at the school. All proceeds will benefit the family.

Tickets will soon be available (Sippican Week will publish more information as it is finalized). Volunteers are sought to help with the event. For more information or to assist, email Sarah at or Bethany at

Tobin says the family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support.

"It was bad after the fire," he admitted, "But after all the support we've received, we've kind of been on cloud nine. It's been a week [on July 11] and I didn't even realize it."

He thanked the community on behalf of the family.

"We don't even have the words to properly thank everyone who has helped us," Tobin said. "We've tried to thank everyone individually. We really don't even have the words to express our gratitude."



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