We often don’t realize how much love and support is available to us until tragedy strikes.
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On the evening of February 3, Samantha Reynolds was at work in Novi, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, when she got the sort of phone call everyone dreads. The mobile home she shared with her grandmother, uncle, boyfriend, and three children was on fire. Not only that, but her grandmother was gravely injured.
Samantha’s grandmother, Eva Reynolds, was 80 years old and in hospice care for congestive heart and kidney failure. A smoker, Eva lit a cigarette too close to her oxygen tank, resulting in an explosion that rocked the entire mobile home park.
Samantha’s partner, Josiah Simmons, was home watching two of their children and Eva when the fire broke out. He rushed into Eva’s burning room and carried her out of the home, instructing his 11-year-old daughter to grab her 7-month-old sibling and get out, too. When first responders arrived, they also rescued the family’s dog and cat.
They spent the next few nights at a local hotel paid for by the American Red Cross, but after that, they were officially homeless.
Eva died from her injuries two days later, and Samantha felt her world come tumbling down. Forced to sleep in the family sedan, she and her partner didn’t know where to turn for help.
“Living in the vehicle was really tough,” Josiah recalled. “Just that moment of what to do next? You know what I mean? It was really terrifying. It was really scary.”
After a local news channel aired a story about the family’s loss, the community began to show their support. Josiah’s employer found them a new place to live, but with no furniture or personal belongings, it wasn’t exactly the most comfortable situation. That’s when Ashley HomeStore stepped in with an incredibly generous offer: $4,500 to spend in their stores!
An Ashley representative on hand to give them a big check said the company was more than happy to help.
“We are part of a community here in Detroit, and anytime a tragedy strikes any of our members here, it affects us in the store, it affects us as a company, and we’ll do anything we could to reach out and help a little bit,” he said.
Armed with $4,500, the family went on a shopping spree! They all got new beds, bedding, and a big L-shaped couch.
“Us not having to spend that money on furniture and being able to go and spend it on bills and clothing and towels and everything that we lost is a a blessing,” Samantha said.
Community members also showered the family with donations of everything from clothing to diapers. A GoFundMe has exceeded $20,000, and Samantha says some of the money will go towards her grandmother’s final expenses. Most importantly, the family feels supported in their time of need, something they hadn’t felt before.
“The community has definitely come together for us,” Samantha said. “Even when the house was on fire, a neighbor came out and wrapped a blanket around my daughter and held me while I was crying. It’s a tragic event and I’ve been really distraught, but the beauty behind what has been done… Strangers we have never met trying to help in any way they can is so heartwarming. It’s mending my broken heart. It sounds sappy, but it really is the truth.”
It gives us peace of mind to think that total strangers will offer to help when life throws us a terrible curveball. Wishing this family the best of luck as they pick up the pieces and move on after tragedy.
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