By Juli McDonald, WBZ-TV

CARLISLE (CBS) – A Carlisle man who survived a serious accident last summer is paying it forward in a major way… opening his home, and his heart, to a family of Syrian refugees.

Sean Kavanagh was riding his bike to work last August when he was hit by a pickup truck on Trapelo Road in Waltham. His wife, Donna Vaillancourt will never forget it, recalling, “The Carlisle police came to the door and told me I had to call Waltham Police immediately, my husband was in an accident. They were unable to tell me what condition he was in, but that I had to get to Lahey as soon as possible.”

refugee Accident Survivor Pays It Forward By Giving Refugee Family A New Life

Sean Kavanagh (WBZ-TV)

Amazingly, Sean survived. But he spent several weeks in the hospital, including a month at Spaulding Rehab. Now almost seven months later, Sean and Donna felt compelled to give back. Donna saw a post online by the Eyes on Refugees organization about a Syrian family placed in squalid living conditions in Massachusetts.

kavanaugh Accident Survivor Pays It Forward By Giving Refugee Family A New Life

Sean Kavanagh (WBZ-TV)

“I thought maybe we’ll send them some clothes or write a check,” Sean said. “But we looked at each other and said we have a place downstairs that’ll be cramped for seven people but it’s open.”

In February, Mohamed Alloh, his wife, and five children moved in with the Kavanaghs. Just a few weeks into the new living arrangement, all of their lives are changed forever.

“Yes they’re refugees, yes they speak Arabic, yes they’re from Syria. But it’s a mom and dad and five kids. Just like any family. The teenage daughter who rolls her eyes at her mother. The two year old who runs around getting into everything. They’re just like every family,” Sean said.

refugee2 Accident Survivor Pays It Forward By Giving Refugee Family A New Life

Donna Vaillancourt (WBZ-TV)

Mohamed was a skilled woodworker in Syria. He’s found a job in Boston and got his driver’s license. All five children are learning English and thriving in Carlisle schools.

Donna insists the real gift has been for her and her husband, saying, “They call us Auntie Don and Uncle Sean. We now have seven, new, interesting, fun friends that are teaching us things about the way we live and our values and I think we can learn from each other.

Sean hopes other families might be inspired to help, as well. “We are a better country and a safer world by reaching out to people like this and giving them a hand up rather than, dare I say, building walls or keeping them at an arm’s length.”

The goal is to eventually get the Allohs into permanent housing in the area, so that the children can stay in the classrooms and on the sports teams they’ve joined. You can help by donating here:

  1. Paul Goodwin says:

    This is such a great, positive, and heartwarming story, especially given the hate and negativity out there, sadly much of this driven by the current occupant of the White House.

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