SUMMIT, NJ - They escaped having lost everything -- everything, that is, except each other and the very clothes on their backs.
There is no doubt that the family of eight whose Morris Avenue home was destroyed by fire on November 11 is in for a steep climb to regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. That is why it is a very good thing that they are from Summit, which means that there is a mountain of Hilltoppers rallying to lift them up and support them on that journey.
Led by a cadre of compassionate neighbors, community members and organizations -- including Summit's Other Fellow First Foundation, Monsignor Robert Meyer of St. Teresa’s Catholic Church and Mayor Nora Radest -- the Hilltop City is coming together to support the survivors of the blaze.
The electrical fire began on the first floor and quickly spread throughout the structure, eventually leaving just a charred shell of a building where a home once stood.
Billye Brown, age 87, owned the two-family home for more than five decades, a residence which she occupied with her granddaughter and her family. During the fire, Qadra Brown -- mother of three small children, ages 6 months 2 and 3 -- and her grandmother Billye had to pass the infant though a broken first floor window to safety.
Mercifully, all eight family members evacuated the building safely with only minor injuries. The family's dog 'Chance' survived but, sadly, their cat 'Stella' did not.
Another tragic consequence of the blaze was that Qadra, an artist whose work supported the family, lost her entire portfolio of paintings in the fire.
A GoFundMe page has been started, and the Other Fellow First Foundation and Monsignor Meyer have partnered to provide $4.000 to assist the family while the fundraising site fully gets into gear. While the family's needs are many, the Other Fellow First Foundation, Monsignor Meyer and Mayor Radest are asking those who want to help to contribute via the GoFundMe page which, as of November 13, had generated $4,877 of an initial goal of $10,000.
"Summit is a little city with a big heart, especially when one of its families is in desperate need of assistance," said Brett Haire, Other Fellow First Foundation president and co-founder. "Please join with our little foundation and Mayor Radest in helping this family."