In the midst of the current public health crisis, the community rallied to support the beloved local charity Alexandria House after a fire struck one of its houses early in the morning of Thursday, March 19.
“It’s nearly 3 a.m. in the morning and the smell of smoke is heavy in the air. Our beautiful green house had a fire that started on the 2nd floor and spread to the 3rd floor as well.” wrote Judy Vaughn, founder of Alexandria House, a transitional residence for women and children, in an email to friends and supporters.
Since then, however, there has been a huge outpouring of support as local residents shared Vaughn’s request for assistance on social media and via e-mail.
“The flood of donation and support has been overwhelming and it fills our hearts with joy during this very difficult time,” wrote Vaughn in a note to the community. “As we take a deep breath, we know you are here with us and we are ever grateful. You can donate by going to our website or contributing to our Amazon Wish List.”
Among the first to respond, NGA Hancock Park purchased and delivered clothing and toiletries including diapers later that day and remains on call to provide additional textile items, according to NGA volunteers Susan Kneafsey and Beverly Brown.
By late morning after the fire, volunteers from the Karsh Center at Wilshire Boulevard Temple had filled Michele Richards of Alexandria House’s car with twenty beautiful bags filled with all the items she requested from us for her wish list: diapers, feminine hygiene products, soaps, shampoos, tooth brush/paste, and more, as well as teddy bears, books and food that the families could eat while in the hotel, according to Dena Bloom, Hancock Park resident and volunteer leader at Wilshire Blvd.
Alexandria House also started a fund on Thursday morning to help residents replace some of their belongings lost in the fire, as well provide funds for food, clothing, and more. Within hours they had received more than $6,000.
“We are extremely grateful that everyone got out safely and nobody was hurt,” Vaughn told the Buzz on Friday. “All of the families who lived in the green house are being temporarily housed in a motel right around the corner. Damage to the house does not appear to be structural so we are preparing to renovate and re-open as quickly as we can.”
Vaughn also told the Buzz she is thankful the five families living at the facility, including 12 children, were able to get out of the house unharmed. Unfortunately, the families are just now realizing all they lost in the fire, explained Vaughn, so any donations will be greatly appreciated.
In addition to donating items from the wish list, Vaughn said monetary donations will really help support the families. “Any additional funds will help us support former residents who are really struggling with the loss of work from the COVID-19 closures,” said Vaughn. So “anything we get will be put to good use.”
Feel free to call Alexandria House at (213-381-2649) if you want to learn how you can help. Alexandria House asks that you call before coming to the house, as staff are still trying to practice social distancing.
About Alexandria House
Founded in 1996, Alexandria House is a transitional residence and house of hospitality. It provides safe and supportive housing for women and children in the process of moving from emergency shelter to economic stability and permanent housing. Located in the densely populated and ethnically diverse Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles, it also serves our broader neighborhood community by providing educational and enrichment opportunities for their community.
This story has been updated.