Fire destroyed the Ferndale building on Sherbrook Street just north of Ellice on New Year's Eve. The 14-unit three-story building was home to 10 participants of Turning Leaf Support Services, an agency that provides crisis and treatment services for vulnerable people, including those living with mental illness and intellectual challenges.
Fire crews helped evacuate several people from the building. No injuries were reported and no cause or damage estimate was available at press time.
Displaced residents received immediate help from the Canadian Red Cross, which provides accommodation and basic needs for 72 hours following a home fire.
Turning Leaf staff spokesperson Swani Landry says Winnipeggers have been generous in the wake of the fire, donating money and household items and even organizing online auctions to raise funds to help residents who have lost everything.
"The fact that people are doing these kinds of things is such a testament to this incredible community and the fact that people are rallying behind these folks is very heartwarming."
Landry said money is the best way people can help out (a Sherbrook Fire Relief Fund has been set up at turningleafservices.ca) but they have also geared up to accept other donations.
"We have had such an outpouring of support...people wanting to give, and some that are not able to give financially, that we kind of shifted, so we are receiving donations of clothing and items."
Items are being accepted at 565 Roseberry Street, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Turning Leaf, which helps about 500 people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, will build a package with the donations for each fire-affected resident and use the relief fund to fill in the gaps. As well, Landry says Turning Leaf is working through the Red Cross to connect with and help two building residents who are not part of their program.
"We are absolutely planning to share donation items with the two people who lived at Sherbrook who are not Turning Leaf participants...we will eagerly provide what we can to help them rebuild after this devastating loss."
The Turning Leaf residents will eventually land in new housing, Landry says, and will be in no danger of being homeless at any point.
"They're going to be OK, but it's going to be weeks and months before all the dust settles."
Another fire on January 3 caused significant smoke, fire and water damage to a building in the 700 block of Portage Avenue, home to New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families, a non-profit that provides supports including therapy, training, education and supporting housing. No injuries, damage estimate or cause of fire has been reported.
Sean Ledwich, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leaf