FB Friends Help Family Hit Twice by Tragedy - NBC Chicago

FB Friends Help Family Hit Twice by Tragedy

A Little Village family gets help from total strangers after their house was destroyed in a fire



    A family from Little Village loses their house to a fire, and our Facebook community comes forward to help. (Published Wednesday, May 11, 2011)

    Irma Guzman says losing her home to a fire has changed her perspective on life.

    “I thank God that my children and I are OK," Guzman said. "The material things can be recovered somehow."

    Guzman’s home went up in flames on the afternoon of March 28 while she picked up her kids at school. She lost everything from her furniture to her children’s most precious toys.

    “What hurt me the most was that my youngest lost his entire Thomas train collection. Little by little I had bought him those toys he so adored, but now they are all gone," Guzman said.

    This tragedy hit just a year after Guzman’s husband passed away. She has been unemployed and taking care of her three children on her own.

    A day after the fire, something changed. Sandra Lopez, a family friend, reached out to NBC Chicago on Facebook for ways to help.

    “I started tearing up because she had gone through so much, lost her husband a year ago and now this happened to her and her children,“ Lopez said.

    “I knew I was going to get an answer from somebody, but I didn't know I would get it the same day,” said Lopez.

    Our team posted pictures on our “NBC 5 News Today” Facebook page, asking for help, and we got an incredible response.

    Dozens of people reached out to us offering clothing, money, gift cards, and then one amazing email from Chicago firefighter Rich Pinskey.

    “The Internet is an amazing thing," said Pinskey. "You can reach thousands of people in seconds and that’s what happened here. Irma’s story came across, we wanted to help, and it kind of snow balled from there.”

    Pinskey’s charity, “Ignite the Spirit,” supports firefighters and families in the Chicagoland area.

    “We deal with tragedy every day in our job, so it’s nice to be able to give back to somebody, to put a smile on their face and make them feel good about themselves,” Pinskey said.

    A few days later, Pinskey and many of NBC Chicago's other Facebook friends, who call themselves "The Good Deed Network," showed up at Irma’s new home bringing all kinds of donations. They received couches, a kitchen table, fridge, stove, clothes and even a laptop and a printer.

    “I know they won’t be able to recover everything they had, but it’s a start," Lopez said. "A very, very good start."