Erin Del Greco and her father woke to realize their worst fears earlier this year as smoke alarms echoed in every room, alerting them that their home was on fire.
They both quickly escaped and made their way to safety as the entire second story of their nearly 100-year-old home was engulfed in flames.
As they helplessly watched the loss of not just the property, but generations of memories disappearing in smoke, Erin began to process the reality of what was happening and the next steps for her and her father.
“There was so much happening all at once, the fire department was there, neighbors gathered on the street, and my head was just spinning. It’s a position you never think you’ll be in.”
The next day was a blur and unsure what to do next, a family member urged Erin to connect with her local Red Cross for help. Erin made the call, and within the hour, a Red Cross Disaster Action Team arrived to help her and her father with their immediate needs and plan a path to recovery including the insurance process, medications, short-term housing, and even disaster mental health services.
Erin had lost nearly everything in the fire, but her greatest concern was the loss of her medications critical to her wellbeing. Through the assistance of the Red Cross, all prescriptions were replaced within the day.
“There was already so much to work through, and to consider having to face it all without what I need to survive, it would have been a terrible outcome for me. It was just…humbling to have the Red Cross take even
one thing off of my plate.”
Red Cross teams also provided Erin and her father with financial support to replace other essential needs which helped to sustain them while they worked with their insurance company on plans to repair and restore their home.
“The Red Cross team that responded to help us, they stuck by us! They continued to check in to see how things were going and even followed up with me on mental health to ensure that I had the resources and
support we needed to get through it all.”
“It takes a toll on you, to experience a home fire like this, and especially for my father who is 78 years old; my mother passed away years ago and the second floor, where everything was lost, was where he and my mother had their bedroom and a lifetime of memories, it was all gone instantly. He has brief moments where he remembers an item or an experience with my mom and then the realization that it’s all been lost comes back to him. It’s been difficult at times, but we are both healthy and have a place to stay; and because of the Red Cross we also have a support system that has helped us get to this point.”
Erin, moved by what she calls, “a level of assistance I have never before known in my life”, has become an advocate for the Red Cross, “I continue to tell anyone who will listen to me how much the Red Cross helps people”.
She has taken this momentum and looked for ways to say thank you to the Red Cross. In mid-2020 the San Rocco Foundation, where Erin serves as a board member, launched a fundraiser – selling face masks to lessen the spread of Covid-19. Erin petitioned the organization to donate the proceeds directly to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund to provide help and support, just as she received, for other home fire victims.