Yesterday morning starting at 3 am, a seven alarm fire swept through the bock in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia where the Simple Way community is based. No one was killed or injured, but eight families are now homeless and the Simple Way Community Center was destroyed. This video was put together by members of the community:
This fire will forever change the fabric of our community. Eight families are currently homeless, and in many cases have lost their vehicles as well as their homes. One of our neighbors, the Mahaias Family, lost their three cars as well as the equipment one family member uses for her massage therapy business. Teenager Brian Mahaias is devastated not because he has lost his belongings, but because he fears that this fire will force him to move away from this neighborhood that is his family as well as his home.
The Simple Way has lost a community center that was home to our Yes! And… afterschool program, community arts center, and Cottage Printworks t-shirt micro-business as well as to two of our community members. Community members Shane Claiborne and Jesce Walz have lost all of their belongings, Yes!And…’s after school studio and library were ruined, and community member Justin Donner’s Cottage Printworks equipment and t-shirts were destroyed.
For many people in the neighborhood, the concern is not just how their homes will be rebuilt, but if they will be rebuilt. In some low income neighborhoods, a major fire like this is seen as an opportunity for developers to come in and take over. The Simple way site says, “Teenager Brian Mahaias is devastated not because he has lost his belongings, but because he fears that this fire will force him to move away from this neighborhood that is his family as well as his home.”
Visit the Simple Way website for more information and info about how you can help.