Ex-convicts join tornado relief effort

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BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) – Many volunteers from the Miami Valley and other areas are continuing to help with tornado cleanup, and that includes a group of ex-convicts looking to give back.

The group, known as the X Factor, joined the organization Team Rubicon Friday in Beavercreek to help with tornado cleanup.

“When they showed up this morning, I was just flabbergasted,” said Joyce Thommen, whose parents’ Beavercreek home was destroyed in the tornado. “I was so surprised, and I am just so overwhelmed and happy.”

Thommen said while the past few weeks have been challenging, she’s incredibly grateful to all of the people from the X Factor and Team Rubicon who have come to help her clean up debris.

“When I got out, I just felt like I would give back to the community,” said Jack Johnson, an X Factor member.

Johnson told 2 NEWS he served two years behind bars for driving under the influence.

“I’ve never really done it, gave to the community and helped out like this before, and it’s just a real good feeling,” Johnson said.

“We want to show the community that we’ve changed, that we’re capable of change,” said Gary Molen, a member of the X Factor who organizes the group’s volunteer efforts.

“It’s a win-win situation is the best way to put it,” said Steve Olson, an incident commander from Team Rubicon. “They get something from it, we get something from it, the community gets something from it.”

The X Factor plans to volunteer next week at a community garden on Xenia Avenue in Dayton, Molen said, and its members are looking to continue helping with tornado cleanup efforts.

“What we have is a team of people that want to give back,” Molen said. “They want to say, ‘Hey, my past doesn’t have to define me, now or in the future.'”

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