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Forward 50 2017

Dayna Skolkin & Josh Tillis

When Hurricane Harvey Rained Out Their Wedding, They Made Lemons Into Lemonade

Like rain on your wedding day, postponing the happiest day of your life and making other people happy is a little bit ironic. But it didn’t feel that way when Dayna Skolkin and Josh Tillis served the three-course meal intended for their rained-out Houston wedding to people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Normally the Forward 50 honors one person at a time, but to respect their generosity and their union, we decided to make an emergency exception and treat Skolkin and Tillis as one.

The couple were to hold a pre-wedding Shabbat dinner at a Jewish not-for-profit that provides housing and services to patients who are being treated at the nearby hospital. The organization, Aishel House, was founded in part by Skolkin’s late mother. As the hurricane descended, Skolkin and Tillis, both 28, decided to cancel their wedding.

But they still needed to figure out what to do with the food intended for their 100 dinner guests. Along with Rochel Lazaroff, co-director of Aishel House, they decided that it should not be wasted.

Once nearby roads were clear, the couple went to Aishel House and, with a group of volunteers, prepared the food intended for their friends and family and gave it to the hungry people of Houston. Skolkin, a nurse practitioner, chopped chicken, while Tillis, who works in real estate, rolled it in breadcrumbs.

“We knew the way to make ourselves feel better about the situation was to get out in the community and volunteer,” Skolkin said. Her mother, a longtime volunteer who passed away after battling breast cancer, was the inspiration for her work. “It was just the obvious choice for us,” Skolkin said.

The couple will now celebrate their wedding in December.

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