Community News __Featured Slider — 09 May 2013
Carpenter’s Shelter flooded with donations after blaze

By Melissa Quinn

After an electrical fire left Carpenter’s Shelter scarred, the community rallied around the organization, raising more than $10,000 to repair structural and water damages sustained during the blaze.

The fire occurred April 12 after a PackTite — a machine designed to kill bed bugs — overheated, bursting into flames. Firefighters later told staff it was a small, contained fire; though no one was injured, the North Henry Street building suffered more than $45,000 in damages.

The facility sustained severe water damage, requiring staff to seek help in pumping the water out. Soaked drywall and carpeting were replaced to prevent mold growth. Windows and doors, broken by firefighters battling the blaze, also needed repairs.

Still, there’s more. The building’s $16,000 fire panel was severely damaged, requiring replacement.

Insurance covered the bulk of the cost, but Carpenter’s Shelter still faced $10,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, said Alex Stevens, a development associate with the group.

“Having this happen close to the end of the fiscal year, we don’t have $10,000 laying around,” she said. “It’s important to keep our residents and our staff safe.”

Stevens helped create an online fundraising page through the website Razoo, called the Carpenter’s Shelter Fire Relief Campaign. The drive was founded with a goal of $10,000, and in less than a week, hit its mark.

“Everyone has been so supportive,” Stevens said. “It’s not the best time to ask people to open their checkbooks, but everyone has been so supportive.”

And the giving hasn’t slowed down.

Virtue Feed and Grain hosted a fundraiser for the group Monday, with 10 percent of proceeds from customers mentioning Carpenter’s Shelter benefitting the facility. Meanwhile, donations keep rolling in.

“The truth is we just have such a wonderful group of support [for] the shelter,” said Lissette Bishins, executive director at Carpenter’s Shelter. “We just have a wonderful community that is supportive of the work that we do.”

Though cleanup from the fire has been completed, the shelter is anticipating additional efforts to rid the facility of smoke remnants.

“We support the community by giving housing to those who are most in need,” Stevens said. “And now we’re the ones who are most in need.”

Founded more than 25 years ago, Carpenter’s Shelter is the largest of its kind in Northern Virginia and provides men, women and children with a warm place to sleep and eat. The facility houses more than 80 beds and offers residents assistance with groceries and childcare, in addition to employment workshops and educational assistance.

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