Community rallies around Rick Gail to help restore his home after fire

A former Cedar Rapids Police officer who has dedicated his life to serving the community is now getting help from others after a life-changing event.
Published: Apr. 10, 2022 at 11:18 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A former Cedar Rapids Police officer who has dedicated his life to serving the community, is now getting help from others after a life-changing event.

”When I stand here right now, I picture my garage doors. I picture the step going up to the front door. I picture being able to walk inside and seeing my house again,” Rick Gail said.

Although the space is currently filled with dirt and construction equipment, it’s a reminder of the progress and incredible community support that has surrounded Care Pastor Rick Gail following a devastating September day. On September 25 of 2021, Gail’s home caught fire after he finished mowing and backed his lawn tractor into his garage. The home was a total loss.

“All our furniture, all our appliances, everything was gone,” Gail said.

Gail lived there since 1992. His late wife, Jan, picked out the home.

“After they were here and set up and putting the fire out, couple of captains came over and hugged me and loved on me,” Gail said.

It was a full-circle moment for the retired police officer who now serves as the chaplin for both the Cedar Rapids police and fire departments. As Gail watched the flames grow, one of the fire captains pointed out a sign in his yard that read “hope is alive.” It remained untouched during the fire.

“He goes ‘look at that sign,’” Gail said. “He pokes me in the chest and he goes, ‘don’t you forget it. Hope is alive.’”

In the process of tearing down his home and rebuilding it, Gail found that the foundation was not covered by insurance because it was not considered fire-related. He would have to pay more than $55,000 out of pocket to replace it.

Once Mark and Tarra Stangl, members of Gail’s church, Radiant Church of Cedar Rapids, heard the news, they wanted to help.

“He had told me, ‘I’ll just take it out of my retirement’ and I’m like ‘no Rick. There’s so many people that love you, just let us do it for you,’” Stangl said.

Since setting up a GoFundMe, nearly 70% of the funds have been raised to help Gail restore his foundation.

“Our love for him. Wanting him to have a place that he can go home to after he serves so many people, because he’s such a great man.,” Stangl said.”

His new home will have the exact same footprint as it did before but will feature a few upgrades he and his late wife couldn’t afford at the time. The plan is to move in this fall.

“I’m so excited. To think that this is going to change and turn around. I’m going to get my house back. Not my house, my home,” Gail said.

To be back in his new home exactly a year after that dreadful fire.

“We’re taking the ugly day and making it a beautiful day,” Gail said.