Burned out family needs a hand up

First Posted: 1/21/2009

Saturday morning a family of seven sat in their minivan watching their house burn to the ground. I cant even imagine what they must have been feeling.
Firefighters fought the blaze, but it became evident shortly after I arrived on the scene, that it was a losing battle.
What really struck me odd about that morning that was truly unusual was that I woke up at 8 a.m. while working second shift, which anyone who knows me can tell you that is just crazy. I am not an early morning person. But its almost as if God whispered in my ear saying, Ive got something for you to do today. Get up!
So, I got up, stirred around the house for a little while, then turned on the scanner that picks up 911 dispatch. And low and behold, they were calling several fire departments to a house fire on Twin Oaks Road. The call was dispatched at 9:18 a.m. Saturday.
Needless to say, Im glad I was awake. When I got to the house, it was fully engulfed. It was an older house it didnt stand a chance. I was pretty sure the family was sitting in a red minivan watching their home go up in flames.
The story especially tugged at my heart because these are really nice people. Seven people now have nowhere to live. The parents are both out of work not by any choice of their own. Patricia Wells is attending school trying to finish out her degree to provide a better life for her family.
Ever since the morning of the fire, I just couldnt stop thinking about them. I had talked to her on the phone Saturday afternoon after the fire and she was just the nicest person. It wasnt all about her. She was just worried about finding a new home for her family.
I think what struck me the most about the whole situation was that, while thankfully they all got out alive and I cant thank God enough for that but they got out with little else.
Imagine losing everything. They didnt even have a change of underwear or socks, much less any of the creature comforts of home. I tried imagining myself in their position. I know that I would not have had the grace to carry on the way that this family has.
Monday night, I went to the Quality Inn where the family is staying, at least until Saturday. The Red Cross put them up for three nights. Someone else paid for another night, for the two rooms. Then Wednesday I learned that the Salvation Army paid for the family to stay until Saturday.
So now the family is pressed to be able to find a home to live in by Saturday. And when they do find a home, they will still have to try and furnish it. One lady called my desk and offered up a free living room set. But, the family still needs beds, bed linens, blankets, sheets, towels and everything else it takes to set up housekeeping.
What the family needs the most is number one: A place to live; Two, love offerings; and Three, the support of the community. If we all rally together, perhaps we can make a difference in the life of this family.
Something else I forgot to mention is that when I was taking pictures of this house burning, in the freezing cold Saturday morning, a rainbow appeared above the house. I know it was caused by the bright sunlight coming in contact with the water from the fire hoses, but I couldnt help to think that it is a sign of hope for the family. Maybe after all they have been through, a better life will rise out of tragedy.
Mondee Tilley is a staff reporter with The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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