Organizations rally together to help fire victims and demonstrate the true meaning of community
By Monica Sanchez
After Arcadia residents were displaced from their homes in the aftermath of the Fairview fire, the Arcadia Firefighters Association decided to host a private dinner for the displaced families last Thursday night, Aug. 10, at the Assistance League.
Not only were victims of the fire fed, but they also received information and relief assistance from philanthropic programs that attended and were given a small amount of cash ($250 just for starters) by the Arcadia Firefighters Association to take home with them that night.
One victim, Michael Lee, a student at Providence Christian College was thankful that “everyone worked together and got everyone out of the 14 units safely…God bless.” Lee reflected that the incident was “very surreal; you’d never think this would happen.” Lee and his father stayed with the Red Cross for the first two days after the fire. Since then, they have found a new place to live two blocks down the same street.
Other victims are still looking for a permanent residence, but the American Red Cross declared that, as of right now, all victims have found a temporary residence. “Some are staying with family or friends,” says Fred Marisol, Regional Communications Manager for the Red Cross, and the Arcadia Association of Realtors even paid for a hotel room for one of the displaced families. The American Red Cross always makes sure that victims have a place to go before they leave, and victims can call the Red Cross back for living assistance if a situation is not working for them.
Firefighter Burkle mentioned that “it’s always sad to see a family lose their home, [but] it’s rare to see so many (42 people) lose their homes all at once…As a unit, we felt it was important to reach out and help.”
President of the Arcadia Firefighters Association, Brian Ursettie talked about how assisting the displaced families in their time of need through a relief fund was only made possible by “gathering all leaders and influencers to help these families,” and Firefighter Jeremy Conrad stressed that the success of the event to provide relief was a “team effort.”
Other than the Arcadia Firefighters Association and the Assistance League, other organizations that were there, ready to serve, were Foothill Unity, Pet Food Bank, American Red Cross, Women’s Club, Arcadia Association of Realtors, Arcadia Chamber of Commerce and the Arcadia Rotary.
In addition to monetary donations given to the relief fund, organizations offered health services, USDA foods, hygiene kits, clothing and other necessary supplies. For instance, the Assistance League encourages victims to come down to their largest program, Operation School Bell, where families can obtain free school supplies and clothing for their children, and the Women’s Club is offering food baskets, clothes and hygiene products. The Women’s Club also welcomed displaced families to join them for a free luncheon on the next first Wednesday of the month at 11:30 a.m.
Representative Judy Chu attended the private dinner as well and pledged $1,000 to the relief fund. Her office is located at 527 S. Lake Ave. Suite 106, Pasadena, and she said victims are welcome to come to her office to obtain help with recovering important lost documents, assistance with federal benefits, or retrieving their social security number.
Rep. Chu declared:
“I am so gratified that the community has come together to help the 42 Arcadia residents who were displaced by this fire. It is a difficult time for them, not having any of their possessions and not having a home. I must commend all the first responders for doing such an excellent job fighting the fire with so few injuries. I especially thank the Arcadia Firefighters for going the extra step in ensuring that the fire victims would get the help they need, and I encourage everybody to continue to help them with resources and donations. This is what the meaning of community is all about.”
Because of the amount of people affected, the Arcadia Firefighters Association (AFA) considered it their duty to help victims along the path to recovery. President Ursettie, said that “fundraising is ongoing,” working towards reaching a goal of $30k, but so far, they have raised $2,340 through GoFundMe.
“With donations made from the community, Police Officers Association, Monrovia Firefighters and other citizens [in addition to the AFA’s own $3,500 donation], we’ve raised $7,400 on top of the $2,340 from GoFundMe,” said Ursettie.
Ursettie added that “the rotary club gave $1,000 directly to the Red Cross for those victims,” and with Rep. Chu’s $1,000 pledge, over $11,000 in total was raised to benefit those residents.
The Arcadia Firefighters Association plans to work with the American Red Cross to determine the displaced residents’ needs. Based on that information, the AFA will decide how the money is distributed among the victims.
If you or others would like to donate to the relief fund for the Fairview fire families, please make out a check to: Arcadia Firefighters Relief Fund and mail it to Arcadia Firefighters Association, PO Box 661865, Arcadia, CA 91066. Donors can also go online and donate to gofundme.com/fairview-fire-families.
1 – Michael Lee, a victim of the Fairview fire, enjoys the free dinner provided by Matt Denny’s. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News
2 – Residents clap as the Mayor, Rep. Chu, and philanthropic programs show their appreciation to first responders and donate to the relief fund. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News
3 – (Left) President of the Arcadia Firefighters Association Brian Ursettie accepts Representative Judy Chu’s pledge of $1,000 to the relief fund for Fairview fire victims. – Courtesy photo / Office of Congresswoman Judy Chu
4 – Judy Chu talks to Fairview fire victims. – Courtesy photo / Office of Congresswoman Judy Chu
5 – Michael Lee puts his arm around a fellow survivor. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News