Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Between my job and the Red Cross – it’s a family. A real family.

by Nadine Rose

Yamilka Alvarez and her family barely escaped from a five-alarm fire in the Bronx that destroyed their home. Alvarez lives with her mother, husband and two young daughters, ages 8 and 2. In the face of this tragedy, the family has found comfort and support with the American Red Cross.

The Alvarez family had lived in their second floor apartment for almost two years. The morning of the fire, they woke up in shock to heat and smoke. Thinking fast, Alvarez was able to grab some identification and a blanket for the baby, and quickly guided her mother and kids to safety. The father of the household met with Red Cross responders when they arrived on site.

Alvarez admitted, “It’s hard because when you see things happen on TV; you don’t think they are going to happen to you.”

Outside, Alvarez continued to feel anxious for her family, especially her mother, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure.

A Red Cross responder took charge, asking if the family needed anything, including housing. They declined the housing, and stayed with friends for two nights.

Then, they decided to meet with a Red Cross caseworker at regional headquarters in Manhattan to learn how to find more permanent housing.

The caseworker helped the family determine the correct paperwork for housing through NYC’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, what resources were available for the mother’s medical needs, and other key next steps.

“I was surprised at all the help the Red Cross gave me,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez appreciates that she came out of the devastating fire with what she needs most.

“I have the most important things – my family.”

Additionally, Alvarez works at a local hospital and is thankful that her employer has given her a lot of support. “Between my job and the Red Cross – it’s a family. A real family.”

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