Fire victims receive gifts from the community
Four Emmaus residents who lived in the apartment building at 36-38 South Fifth St., Emmaus, which was destroyed by fire March 17 and where four people perished, were given the money raised in benefit activities in the community and, in turn, had nothing but praise for those who came to their aid.
An Emmaus Fire Survivors Benefit Run, held May 11 under the auspices of the Emmaus Main Street Partners, along with raffles and other activities, raised $5,000. The benefit efforts were supported by Volpe's Sports Bar and Grill, the Emmaus Run Inn sports shoe store, and First Niagara Bank, with logistical support from the Emmaus Main Street Partners.
Emmaus Main Street Partners President Gene Clock presented checks to Tiara Laauwe, Kristy Niedosik and her son Adam, Holly Woomer and her daughter Brooke, and to Bobby Taylor, at a small ceremony held July 10 at Volpe's Sports Bar and Grill, 501 Broad St., Emmaus.
The survivors of an East Main Street fire last December were also slated to receive a portion of the benefit funds, but they said they were adequately insured for their losses and preferred the four families from the Fifth Street fire receive all the money.
The community response to the victims of both fires demonstrated the concern for those who lost all their belongings in the fires. A January collection benefit at the Emmaus Fire Station on Sixth Street brought an overwhelming response of clothing, household and personal goods that went beyond the needs of the East Main Street fire victims and provided items as well for the Fifth Street fire victims.
Laauwe, a tenant who lived on the second floor, of the Fifth Street building, has relocated to an apartment near Volpe's along Broad Street. Laauwe, who works at Oliver's Salon and Day Spa, in Wescosville, said she was overwhelmed at the response from her co-workers and from community members she did not know.
"They just kept dropping things off for me and encouraging me more than I could believe," she said. Laauwe said she would use her portion of the funds for new clothes. "I'm still wearing donated clothing, and not all of it fits that well. I'm looking forward to a shopping trip."
Niedosik, her son Adam, and their pet, Buck, the rabbit, have been living with her parents in the Stryer section of Emmaus. Adam, who received the check on behalf of his mother who was working, said they would probably use the money to try and secure a new apartment.
Woomer, who is settled in another apartment on Fifth Street, near the Emmaus Post Office, said the community "has been wonderful" to her and her daughter, Brooke. She said she would probably bank some of the money, but she might look for a replacement computer for the one lost in the fire. "The response to our losses by the community was just overwhelming," Woomer said.
Woomer said she was notified at work her apartment building was on fire. Woomer immediately called her former husband, Brooke's father, who went to the home and had to kick in the door to the first floor apartment to get his daughter, who was not aware of the fire, to safety.
Taylor, who lived in an apartment with his long-time partner, Maria Adamo, who perished in the fire, was not able to attend the ceremony at Volpe's. Taylor earlier said he was so grateful to the rescuer who pulled him through a window to safety.
Melissa Twining, her son Montana, and their friend, David Jenkins, who lived in the third floor apartment where the fire is believed to have started, perished in the blaze.
Emmaus police said while the fire was not deemed suspicious, a final report on the cause is still pending from Pennsylvania State Police fire marshals.
Attorney Craig Neely, of Emmaus, said he has been following the investigation on behalf of the estates of Melissa and Montana Twining, but that it would be premature to talk of any court claims on behalf of the estates until all the final reports have been filed.