FOX 6 NEWS VIDEO
Another Hand Foundation
Helps Fire Vicitms in Milwaukee
Another Hand Foundation
"Assisting Families and Individuals During Crisis and Empowering Them to Rebuild Their Lives"
Zulima Murgado, director of Another Hand Foundation, sorts through clothing that will be distributed to families that have lost belongings because of fires and floods.
Anthony Ealy didn't recognize the beeping sound at first.
"I thought it was a truck backing up," said the south side resident, who followed the noise into the hallway of his apartment building to see smoke and flames. "I started knocking on everyone's door and getting them out of the building."
They all made it out safely, but within minutes, everything Ealy owned was gone.
"I had to start over from scratch," he said.
Ealy is among the hundreds of families in Milwaukee County displaced by fire each year. Helping them rebuild their lives is Another Hand Foundation.
"The majority of the families don't have fire insurance. They lose all of their possessions, and they are essentially homeless," said Zulima Murgado, director of the foundation, which replaces needed household items such as furniture, dishes, linens, bedding and clothing, free to displaced families.
The effort began in 2009 as a labor of love by Murgado, who frequented rummage sales and the like, collecting items to give to the less fortunate. When she told others about her goal, they wanted to help.
"When you care, people care, too," said Murgado, who amassed a large collection, opened a warehouse and began helping families displaced by fire and other disasters.
So far the foundation has helped more than 350 families, 70 of whom were victims of last year's severe floods. They have received donations from businesses, but most of their contributors are individuals.
One family, which recently donated to Another Hand, saw it as a silver lining in an otherwise dark period.
"The unfortunate foreclosure of our home left us with heartache. We were overwhelmed with the amount of accumulated items over the years," said Connie Marks of Germantown, who had to leave their home and donate many of the furnishings in it.
"After we learned about their passion to help people, we knew that they would be the vessel to help us," said Marks, who along with her husband, Rich, is now doing well. "A weight has been lifted off us. This will be another one of the good memories from our home."
John Semrow of Menomonee Falls recently gave the foundation dishes, pots, pans, a fold-away bed, a couch, linens and towels from his mother's estate.
"I have more than I need, and I wanted to put these items to good use," Semrow said. "My heart goes out to someone in disaster. Not to have hope, know where you are going to go or where you are going to live, is horrible."
The organization's curbside service, he said, was a bonus.
"They come into your house and carry it outside and place it in their truck and take it away," he said.
In many instances, foundation volunteers are on the scene of a fire, along with first responders.
"It's a phenomenal effort," said Joshua Parish, fire captain for the Milwaukee Fire Department's Engine 34. "Anytime there is someone in the community to give a helping hand to those in need, it's wonderful."
The organization works alongside members of the American Red Cross of Southeastern Wisconsin, which helps displaced families find immediate emergency shelter.
"They have been a tremendous asset helping many families with the additional things beyond what the Red Cross can help with," said Kurt Worden, the agency's manager of disaster services.
Other organizations rely on Another Hand for other reasons.
"We quite often get people who call us with donations, but we are not set up to take large donations," said Jenny Gryniewicz of the Social Development Foundation, which stores items for incoming client families at Another Hand's warehouse. "It's been a real awesome partnership."
Ealy, whose apartment fire occurred in February, was so indebted to Another Hand for replacing his queen-size bed, dresser, television and other household items, he started to volunteer at the site.
"They have been a blessing," he said.
ANOTHER HAND FOUNDATION
Mission: Committed to prioritizing the needs of individuals and families in the community for the benefit of preventing homelessness and providing hope for recovery through our contributions.
Address: 6633 West Mill Road
Milwaukee, WI 53218
Phone: (414) 502-0853
Faces of Hope focuses on Milwaukee-area people who need a hand and the organizations that are helping them. If you have story ideas, email Felicia Thomas-Lynn at email@example.com or call (414) 224-2073.
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