WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Irene Hooper and her husband live on northwest side of Warren. After raising a family there, Irene says she still had a lot of mothering to do.
Seven years ago, not long after her youngest child moved out of the house, she met Tasha Rhinebolt at the birthday party of a mutual friend.
Tasha will soon celebrate her 30th birthday, but since she was 4 months old, she has suffered from three brain tumors, nerve disorders, seizures, and she is blind in one eye. She has been at an assisted living facility since she was 12 and has very little family.
That’s when Irene stepped in.
“She herself just needed someone to love her, hug her and care about her, and take her for who she really is, and with the good Lord’s wisdom and help, this is what I’ve done,” Irene said.
The two became very close, and Tasha has learned a lot from Irene.
Tasha now holds down a good job and is much more independent. She visits Irene whenever she likes, and says she’s incredibly grateful for what the Hoopers have done for her.
“They’ve been wonderful. I mean, she loved me for who I was. She welcomed me with open arms, no questions asked,” she said.
At first, Tasha referred to Irene as her grandma, but the closer they’ve gotten, she now prefers calling her mom.
It is for this that Hooper is being recognized as this week’s WYTV Hometown Hero.