Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Days Before Christmas, Volunteers Offer Comfort in Freeport

By Amanda Rothenberg, American Red Cross Intern

What should have been an average day turned into heartache for Deyanissa Bonifacio, a young mother of two, when she watched her home burn through a cloud of smoke. It was only two days before Christmas when a devastating fire in Freeport, N.Y destroyed her home. Red Cross volunteer Bruce Vesloski and his team of responders rushed to the scene, covered Deyanissa with blankets and warm clothing and comforted her during her time of need. A week later, we sat down with Deyanissa to discuss her experience on that fateful day.

The Bonifacio home in Freeport after the fire
Can you walk us through what happened the day of the fire?

It was in the morning. I basically did what I do every day, just woke up. I went to take a shower. When I went in the shower I felt like it smelled a weird smell. I got out of the shower, I go into the room and the room was already on fire. I had to run outside in a towel. I was screaming for help and these two girls stopped and gave me some clothes that they had in their car. Then the Red Cross came.

How was the Red Cross able to help you?

They gave me some basics: underwear, socks, stuff like that, sweaters and jackets. Whatever they could help me with. They gave me a gift card. I stayed at the hotel they provided me for three days. They helped me out, made it a little bit easier, because Christmas was coming. And on top of that, the communication between me and Bruce, even though that already happened… I still communicate with him, I still call him.

How are your daughters?

My daughter goes to school right across the street from the house so she saw what happened; she just didn’t know it was our house. But with everything that happened, they’re not really, as you would say, there. I understand, it’s a lot, everything at once, in the blink of an eye.

What did it mean to you to know that there were people there to help you?

That was really nice. It makes you feel like there are other people who care out there, that they don’t have to be blood or anything. The Red Cross was really helpful; they help you from the heart. It’s not only at that time; maybe you need an answer, you can call them. They helped me. They help a lot of people… I just want to thank you guys for everything. It’s not like you’re by yourself in the world. There are people who care. There are people who can give you a hand when you most need it, when you fall down and you have to get up.

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