ENFIELD: Seeing her neighbour’s home burn to the ground left Melissa Williams knowing that she had to help out in the healing process.
That’s why Williams, a mother of one, and Elmsdale firefighter Tim Reynolds have teamed up to help the family of seven that saw their lives of the past 30 years go up in flames. The family, two older adults, their son and his fiancee and their three kids of varying ages, are now staying at separate locations.
“I watched their home burn to the ground with my own eyes. I seen them lose everything,” said Williams in a Sept. 5 interview. “They’re nice people. I just couldn’t stand around and not do anything about it.
“The next morning after the fire I decided to put a post on Facebook looking for donations. Great things have come out of it so far. We have a wonderful community.”
Reynolds agreed with Williams.
“Being a volunteer firefighter you’re there to support the whole community,” said Reynolds. “Having children involved makes you want to help out and do what you can.”
There’s been such an outpouring of support since Williams posted a plea for clothing and donations for the family on Sept. 2, that her basement filled quickly—and continues to replenish—as people drop off clothing and toys.
That’s where Reynolds comes in. He’s using his pickup truck to be able to pickup larger items and getting support from people all over the city.
“The response has been amazing,” said Williams, who has responded to 40-50 Facebook messages a day. “I believe by the end of all this, if we can get some sort of fundraiser going, I feel in my heart that while they lost their home we will be able to give them everything they need, the basics, to start a new home.”
Williams is hopeful the show of support is giving the family some relief.
“We’re all working really hard together to give some of what they lost back,” she said. “You could see when they picked up some of the clothes earlier tonight, the relief on their faces showed they were very appreciative and grateful.”
Reynolds didn’t expect such a quick response from the community.
“It took off a lot faster than I ever anticipated,” he said. “I’ve had people who I’ve never encountered in my life contact me on Social Media asking how they could help.
“The response has been overwhelming.”
Williams said the communities outpouring shows that the small town feeling and kindness is still alive in East Hants and across N.S.
“It’s a great thing,” said Williams. “This just goes to show you how great we are and how we work together.”
As the fire burned, Williams stood at the end of her driveway, almost directly across the home, and had complete emptiness.
“I had a feeling I never had before,” she said. “Within 25 minutes I watched the fire start to nothing. It was 25 years of memories all gone in 25 minutes. It just broke my heart. That’s when I decided I needed to do something.”
The family issued a statement to The Weekly Press on Aug. 6 thanking the residents for their outpouring of support.
“We are really happy and surprised with all the support and very grateful for that,” the emailed statement said. “This support has made it a little bit easier on us. Our home is our number one thought at this time.
“We would like to thank everyone for their support and it really means so much to us.”
To donate to the family you can contact Williams or Reynolds on Facebook or drop off donations at 78 Bakery Lane in Enfield, or through the GoFundMe page setup for the family by searching for “House Destroyed In Fire.”