"Blessed" was the word repeated over and over after a Des Moines woman and her family received the American Red Cross’ assistance after a fire destroyed their home.
In the early morning of Dec. 1, 2015, Latoya Lovelady-Ware woke to her youngest son’s shouts, declaring smoke was everywhere, and he couldn’t see a thing. He had been in the shower at the time getting ready for school.
“I hopped up to see what was going on, turned on the lights, and the smoke was so thick in the house that the lights didn’t even help,” the mother of three said. “It was kind of a disaster getting out of the house because I didn’t know if my kids made it out or not. I tried to run through the house to find them, but they already made it out.”
She and her oldest son were immediately admitted to a Des Moines hospital. While attempting to escape the blazing home, he received cuts on his arms and legs and lost an extensive amount of blood. His mother was admitted after falling in an attempt to climb over a fence to get to her family. Lovelady-Ware was in the early months of pregnancy at the time.
“At the hospital, I was thinking in my head that now I have to take my kids and stay with my mom and figure this out,” she said. “I didn’t know where to get the money to replace my youngest son’s stuff. I didn’t know anything.”
Her youngest son’s bedroom received the most damage from the fire, which destroyed everything, including his clothes, shoes and school supplies. In the midst of winter, he had nothing to stay warm.
Within an hour after the fire, the Red Cross met with the family, and she couldn’t believe how quickly the volunteers arrived.
“They showed up pronto like the police would show up to an accident,” she said. “The response time was just amazing. These two volunteers asked me a couple questions, and they let me know they were there to see if they could help me get back on my feet.”
Following the fire, the Red Cross contacted a nearby motel for her family to reside for two weeks. The family also received vouchers for food and to replace clothes lost in the fire. After she and her family moved into a house several weeks later, the organization paid part of her deposit as well. The family was excited and grateful to be able to celebrate Christmas in the new home.
“I didn’t have to worry too much about the necessities for the family because that was pretty much provided by the Red Cross for the first couple of months of this year,” she said. “They were just an extreme blessing for us.”