Community rallies for six burned out families
By John Joyce
Published in News on December 18, 2013 1:46 PM
Kwaniyah Baker and her brother, Erion, glue sequins to decorate their snowmen at the Goldsboro Family Y, while family members are taken to a local store to replace items lost in an early Saturday morning fire that displaced six families. The Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the YMCA partnered to assist the needy families, along with the Goldsboro News-Argus, which contributed through its Empty Stocking Fund.
Four days ago, they lost nearly everything -- six of the families who were burned out of their homes when a fire ravaged an apartment complex off East Holly Street.
But Tuesday night, thanks to a Christmas miracle performed by the Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross and the Goldsboro YMCA, they got something back.
Red Cross Chief Executive Officer Tammy Forrester said two of the families impacted by the fire did in fact lose "every last thing they had."
One of them, Shnate Parker, was the occupant of the apartment where the fire started, 1717 B.
And she and her son, Jayden, 4, did not only lose all of their belongings.
The boy's medications were also destroyed.
"He is asthmatic," Ms. Parker said. "We lost his Nebulizer, all his meds ... everything."
Ms. Forrester and the Red Cross are working to get Ms. Parker replacements for Jayden's lost medications.
But Tuesday evening, the community worked to replace the other items taken by the fire.
Volunteers Allan and Nancy Harvin took Shnate to Walmart with gift cards collected by the Y.
"It was a really heartwarming experience," Ms. Parker said. "I didn't think there were such good people still out there."
The Harvins then volunteered to take the woman and her son home since, with all the purchased items -- seven boxes of food, two boxes of shoes and one of the 14 pizza pies donated by Brooklyn Pizzeria -- the Parkers would not fit in the truck of the other fire family they had ridden with to the Y.
"She was so pleasant and appreciative," Harvin said.
Robbie and Marie Peters, the people who had driven Ms. Parker to the event, also lost their home in the fire Saturday.
"We were supposed to be let back in today to see what, if anything, we could salvage," Ms. Peters said.
But when the couple arrived, they were not let in due to the condition of the building.
"My roof caved in," she said. "They said it was unsafe."
So instead, the family went shopping with volunteers Susan Horan and Caroline Ellis.
"They were a blessing," Ms. Peters said.
Ms. Horan, who heard about the need for volunteers through her church, said it was just something she felt compelled to do.
"It was wonderful, and it is something, honestly, I got as much out of it as they did," she said.
Ms. Ellis, who also volunteered Sunday to participate in an event that saw 56 families taken shopping by community volunteers, said she received an email that there was another need and so she showed back up again.
"Sunday was my first time volunteering with the Y's Men, but then I heard about this," she said. "I think all like-minded people respond the same way."
Goldsboro Y child care staff Tyesha Lucas and Molly Plount helped out by playing games and having fun with the children impacted by the fire -- the children stayed behind so their parents could shop more easily and still salvage a few surprises for Christmas morning.
YMCA Associate Executive Director Kriquette Davis was instrumental in pulling together all of the volunteers who helped pull off both the Sunday event and Tuesday's last minute pitch-in from the community.
"Compared to Sunday, this one was easy," she said. "I didn't have to plan and coordinate as much. I just asked everyone to be here and they are."
Volunteer and retired teacher Jane Mull said she was just glad to be able to come out and help.
"It's just part of being a community," she said.
Herman Davis, as well as Najuah Baker and her family, were among the last to head out on their shopping trips and were not available for comment at the end of the night.
The Hamm family, too, was unavailable for comment.
The Red Cross, the Goldsboro Y, the Goldsboro Housing Authority, the Salvation Army, the Goldsboro News-Argus through its Empty Stocking Fund and the community all came together to help in a time of need.
Robbie Peters, when speaking about his experience with his family's volunteers, extended his gratitude to all those involved.
"She is a sweetheart," Peters said. "Every one of (them) is."