The Manuels had no idea that their lives would change in the blink of an eye. After a devastating fire, they were glad NHCO was there to help.
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Aaron Manuel stood barefoot on the street Mother’s Day morning. He had run out of his smoke-filled house holding the dog under one arm and his little girl under the other. He texted his wife, Amber, who was away for the weekend. Thankful that their son was at Grandma’s, he sent Amber pictures of their home going up in flames.
The Manuels and seven other families lost their homes in the fire. Mercifully, everyone escaped unharmed. But picking up the pieces has been exhausting, frustrating and financially devastating.
The week after the fire, Amber remembers, “My husband had no shoes.”
The hard work began: the Manuels had to find a home, keep Aaron, Jr. and Athena in their schools and replace everything from birth certificates to bedroom furniture. They learned to navigate a system they never before needed to navigate.
All of the fire survivors were invited to a gathering of social service agencies that would guide them through the transition. Amber and Aaron had never needed help before. They were surprised to learn that because of the generosity of neighbors in local communities, North Hills Community Outreach could provide financial and emotional support and many more resources.
“There are people who really want to help people in need and genuinely care about other people’s well-being,” Aaron says. When the Manuels received help beyond what they needed, they “paid it forward” to help other survivors.
“North Hills Community Outreach provided us with grocery gift cards and store vouchers, and Famous Footwear cards so Aaron could get shoes,” Amber says. When the family found a new house, they were able to start replacing things they’d lost.
Other families received even more extensive help from NHCO. They received assistance for security deposit and first month’s rent, as well as housing lists. They discussed support offered through NHCO’s Family Development Program.
The Manuels and the other Sample Street families could pick up the pieces and start over. They have a new home nearby, and their children are sleeping restfully again.
“We still get phone calls from NHCO, asking if we are okay and do we need anything,” Amber says. “I’ve cried so many times thanking them. We wouldn’t have what we have without the help.”
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