Late last year Carmen Allende, who works as a security guard in midtown Manhattan, was at work when she received a frantic phone call from her daughter. After a brief conversation, Allende suddenly found herself rushing home with the knowledge that her home of 13 years was on fire. At first, Allende said, she felt helpless at the thought of losing everything, but with help from the American Red Cross, she has found new hope.
The fire started shortly after 11 a.m. at the Allende home on Dawson Street in the Bronx. Allende’s six-year-old nephew was playing with a lighter, when he accidentally set his mother’s bed on fire. As he tried to put out the fire out, it expanded, engulfing the apartment in flames.
Allende said that she realized how big the fire actually was when she reached her block and saw multiple fire trucks. As she approached her home, she saw her son running towards her, crying.
“When I turned the corner,” she said. “I saw a whole bunch of fire fighters and I was like, wow.”
Eventually, Allende was able to reenter her home. But once she saw the damage to the apartment, she was overwhelmed. Allende, with no family nearby, started to worry that she would have nowhere to take her children.
“That’s when the Red Cross came,” she said. “They’re very helpful people.”
Allende was standing in her damaged bedroom when she first encountered the Red Cross. A female member of the team reassured her that everything was going to be okay, and that they were there to help.
“She was so nice,” said Allende. “She told me, ‘Just be glad your family is okay,’ she said, ‘don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere, we’ll stay here until you’re ready, we got you a room in a hotel.’”
After reassuring the family that they would be there for support, the Red Cross provided Allende and her children with some money for food and clothing, a place to stay, and a Metro card.
Thinking back at the day of the fire, Allende recalls, “I was so numb. Without the Red Cross I thought I was going to sleep on the street with my kids.”
Thanks to the help of dedicated volunteers, she says, she has found a new perspective on the future.
“I thought I had nothing,” she said. “And then all of a sudden I had hope.”
Support Home Fire Victims: Two Ways to Donate
To support home fire survivors across the country, the Red Cross has launched a new social media campaign called #GiveWhatFireTakes, in conjunction with the Home Fire Campaign. You can help by taking part in #GiveWhatFireTakes and making a donation to help people affected by disasters big and small.
Set Goals and Fundraise with Crowdrise Whether you form a team or fundraise as an individual, Crowdrise puts you on the front lines of fundraising to help people affected by disasters big and small, including home fire prevention and recovery. We even helped provide easy goals to help fundraise through your networks.
Choose Your Own Amount A new donation page on redcross.org allows you to choose a support amount based on how much you can give. Donation levels represent a range of items that the Red Cross typically provides after a fire, and these donations will be used to help people affected by disasters big and small.