Carol Cwiak, Published November 03 2010
F-M community comes through for victims of apartment blazeOn the evening of Oct. 11, I stood across the street from the Galleria On 42nd apartment complex in Fargo with my sons and their roommate watching the fire destroy pieces of folks’ lives indiscriminately – pieces of my sons’ lives and pieces of their friends’ and neighbors’ lives. We watched helplessly as we knew the pets they owned that were still in the apartment perished. It was horrifying, heartbreaking and overwhelming.
Since that evening, I have experienced something that I knew existed, but had never personally experienced before: the power of the F-M community to close ranks and lift up those of its members who are hurting.
I expected to see the organizations that deal with these types of events and loss as part of their organizational mission emerge in force to adeptly meet the needs of the residents and first responders (Red Cross, Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, United Way of Cass-Clay), but I never fully expected the force with which others in the community would respond. The outpouring of concern, support and donations from individuals and businesses has been phenomenal.
Most notable is the effort undertaken on behalf of the Galleria residents by the Shepherd of the Prairie Church, Pastor Eric, Katie, Janson and the church’s congregation who took on the incredibly labor- and space-intensive effort of donation management. I call them “the little church that could” because they just continued to extend their capacity to meet the donation and distribution needs. Eventually, the Galleria donation effort took over their entire facility and left them working day and night to meet the needs of the 150 displaced residents.
Ultimately, all I have to offer here is words, and now I completely realize why it is that words cannot express the depth of my gratitude to the F-M community. This was an act of heart – the heart that this community is known for – and this was something that while felt is too powerful to be captured in a string of words or sentences focused on gratitude. This is a feeling that reminds you of the connectivity we have as not only community members but as human beings. The closest words I can ascribe to the feeling are as follows:
It is akin to having hundreds of hands catch you as you are in mid-fall ... all of them the hands of people who care uniquely about your well-being ... all of them willing to carry you until you can again plant both feet firmly on the ground.
I know now that one can only really understand this feeling if they have lived it. My family has lived this, and while all I have now to offer is words, know that these words are written by a knowing heart that will never forget the kindness, love and support this community has shown not only to her family but to all the Galleria residents. Thank you, F-M community – more than words can say.