One knock on the door turned my world upside down.
Our family had been having a wonderful evening with my 3rd floor neighbor and her son. We went to the local park in our Chicago neighborhood and then came back to our condo for Chinese food delivery.
Amidst the laughter and talking, I heard a knock on the front door. When I opened the door, my 1st floor neighbor across the hall said, “Everybody has to get out of the building. There’s a fire on the 3rd floor! Get your kids and get everyone out!”
Disbelief and nervous panic went through all of us as we scrambled to find shoes and leave out the back door of the condo. Everything SEEMED fine. Could this really be happening?
I couldn’t find my toddler’s shoes, so I finally hoisted him up against my pregnant belly and sent my 5 and 3 year old out the door behind my neighbor and her son. As I scurried out into the parking lot, I turned my head to look up behind me and my jaw dropped.
There were flames coming out of the 3rd floor window right across the hall from where my neighbor lived!
This was really happening.
At first we assumed the small, contained fire wouldn’t affect our condo. After the fire trucks came and put it out, we even went home and slept in our place that night. But we realized the next morning that smoke damage had affected everything throughout the building.
For our own health and safety, we could not live in our home.
Thankfully, our insurance company took great care of us. They put us up in a hotel for a few nights and then transitioned us to a furnished apartment downtown.
Even still, during the four months we were displaced, we sometimes wondered . . .why?
Why was this happening to us?
Though we never got answers for that question, we did receive comfort in our time of need. Friends rallied around us in so many ways: brought food, brought us new games for the kids to play, and offered their homes for my kid’s naps when we had to be in the neighborhood. Because of this, I never felt abandoned.
I felt supported.
My experience is only a tiny fraction of the tragedy and suffering our neighbors to the south have just experienced with Hurricane Harvey.
No doubt all of us know someone affected by this disaster.
It will take months and years to address all the loss and displacement. All of us in the United States must recognize that it will take ALL of US to help our neighbors through this hardship.
Donating money is an important way to help. There are many great organizations providing disaster relief and you won’t have to look far to find them.
However, one item that we’ve heard which disaster relief services cannot provide is diapers.
Can you imagine?
You’re wet. You’ve lost everything. You’re displaced. And you have a baby or a toddler and you have no diapers.
Cafe O’Play will be collecting diapers, wipes, pull-ups, and adult diapers for the Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio this September. Our goal is to fill 12 large boxes, and as we fill them, we will ship them. Unopened packages are preferred, but partials will be accepted. We have a big box currently in our foyer at 911 Graham Rd, Stow. Our neighbor business, Round 2 Kids (around the corner from us in our Plaza) will accept the diapers for us during Sundays and Mondays when we are closed.
Help us give some of our displaced countrymen and women in need some diapers, would you?
I know we don’t have answers for this terrible, massive storm.
But it sure would be great if we can help our neighbors feel supported, as their world has been turned upside down.