|Yvette Carvajal and her Red Cross casworker, Lilliam Rivera-Cruz
by Caroline Hroncich
A relaxing day at the beach quickly took a turn for the worse for the Carvajal family. Forty-three year-old Yvette Carvajal had taken her two children, Jasmine, 10, and David, 15, to the beach on July 19, in celebration of Jasmine’s birthday, when she received a frantic phone call from a neighbor: Their Bronx apartment was on fire. Fortunately, the American Red Cross was there to provide assistance.
When they got back to their Garfield Street home of seven years, Carvajal was shocked at the scene unfolding before her. The fire department was almost finished putting out the fire, and there was hardly anything left to recover.
“There was broken glass everywhere,” she said, “When I went to the back and saw the destruction in my room and my son’s room; that got me bad.”
Carvajal said she felt lost, unsure of what she was going to do, and where she was going to stay. Then two Red Cross volunteers approached her.
“They comforted me,” Carvajal said. “They asked if I had a place to go. I told them I was going to stay in my car. The man said ‘We will get you a place to stay.’”
The Red Cross provided the Carvajal family with temporary housing close to their neighborhood. They also received emergency funds for new clothing, since they now had only their beach wear.
“I left my home fine,” Carvajal said, “and came back and find it was gone. My apartment was where we felt comfortable. That was my home.”
There is no doubt Yvette Carvajal’s strength allowed her to stay positive throughout this experience. Carvajal said her Red Cross caseworker, Lillian Rivera-Cruz, helped her to get access to the resources she and her two children need to move forward.
“Right now the Red Cross has given me hope, and is guiding me to the path I’m supposed to be on to start over,” she said. “I feel very thankful."