Brian and Michelle – Fall River, MA
The smell of smoke still lingers on some of their family’s personal belongings—children’s clothes included. Household goods hit with water damage are other reminders of a time that Brian and Michelle would soon like to forget.
It was 10 p.m. on November 20, 2013 when Michelle smelled smoke coming from the apartment on the floor above. She went outside to find that a cigarette that a neighbor tried to discard had fallen into a crevice between the floor boards of the porch. Michelle, Brian and the neighbor attempted to extinguish the budding fire, but the smoke continued and ultimately led to an unmistakable crackling noise.
The tenants of the three-unit building were evacuated after 911 was called. The fire department successfully did its job, but much of the building was ruined from either direct flames, smoke or water damage from the hoses. The latter two were what hit Brian and Michelle’s unit the hardest and left them, their three biological children and two foster children in search of a place to live.
Mentor foster parents in Massachusetts MENTOR’s Therapeutic Foster Care program since 2004, Brian and Michelle know full well how to take care of a family. They have cared for numerous children in foster care, including the 13-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl that currently live with them. They also adopted a foster child six years ago, when she was 13. But no experience could have prepared them for this turn of events. Luckily, help arrived in many forms—one being Network Angels.
“We spent Thanksgiving in a hotel, and I vowed to my kids that we would be in a home by Christmas,” Brian said.
The family spent a month living in different hotels before Network Angels awarded them with a grant to cover costs of furniture, clothing, food, bedding and other essential items. The grant came just as the family was able to move in to a new apartment—which was a few days shy of Christmas. Brian was able to honor the vow he made to his family.
“I’m just glad that there are programs out there that look out for families in need, because some people would be out on the street,” Brian said. “I don’t know what we would have done without Network Angels.”
Brian and Michelle also looked to their friends at Massachusetts MENTOR for help. The couple gives a lot of credit to Bob Costas, the program manager at the New Bedford children’s program. Bob was the one who informed Brian and Michelle about Network Angels.
“Overall, the gift from Network Angels was a godsend and absolutely appreciated,” Bob said.
In the months following the night that changed the family’s lives, they still found residue from the fire on items that they carried into their new home. Despite that fact, Brian and Michelle have been able to look forward. Their family is intact and, piece by piece, they’re putting things back together.
“I would definitely recommend Network Angels to other families (in The MENTOR Network) who are in need,” Brian said. “Those would be the first people I’d tell anyone to call.”