“I couldn’t comprehend the loss,” said Christine Cruz, a Purchase Order Writer for Eastman Footwear Group whose life was turned upside-down last year when a fire ripped through her NYC apartment building, leaving her family homeless and in desperate need of help.
Everything was going great for Christine as she settled into her fifth year in the footwear industry. A recent raise meant she could move her thriving family into a bigger apartment in the Bronx. “Things seemed to be perfect; it was as if the universe was aligning and everything in my favor,” said Christine. “Then it all fell apart.”
On June 3, 2013 she woke to the smell of smoke and all the sounds associated with a three-alarm fire. “I grabbed our two children, our two-month-old puppy, and a folder full of identification and flew down the stairs.” It took more than one hundred firefighters three hours to put out the blaze that was caused by a faulty light switch in an apartment two floors above. At the end of the day, all their belongings were destroyed and the apartment was deemed unlivable. With no renters insurance and nowhere to go, they were placed in “the system” and moved to a family shelter.
When she returned to work four days after the fire, Christine was warmly greeted by coworkers who encouraged her to call Two Ten. “When a person has held the head of household title for so long, asking for help, even when in dire need can be difficult,” said Christine. Her fears faded after speaking with an intake specialist who explained how Two Ten could help. “To my surprise, a check was overnighted to me and it brought tears to my eyes.”
One year later, Christine’s family has found a new home in the Bronx and has a positive outlook on the future. “Starting all over again in the blink of an eye is traumatic. Knowing that there is an organization like [Two Ten], that opens their arms and hearts to people in need is comforting and instills hope that you will see the rainbow after the storm.”