Community rallies to help teens in foster care displaced by fire

Boys and Girls having receiving help from community post-fire

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Young adults with the Boys and Girls Haven are sheltering in a gymnasium while they figure out what’s next.

It is a warm place and the foster group’s basic needs are met, but sleeping in a tent on the floor just isn’t the same as their own rooms.

“The group is in a pre-independent living program,” Read Harris, CEO of Boys and Girls Haven said. “We take foster care children out of living on campus, into an apartment-like setting so they can learn life skills.”

The group of 16 young adults can soon transition out of foster care. But as they built their way to independence, a fire destroyed their belongings.

A Boys and Girls Haven representative said the fire happened in the kitchen and was accidental, caused by electrical issues.

The November 27, 2018 fire left 16 young people in an Independent Living Program homeless. No one was injured.
The November 27, 2018 fire left 16 young people in an Independent Living Program homeless. No one was injured. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

“When that building burned down that was their home, that was their haven and they lost everything there, too,” Harris said.

It could be another six months for the building to be repaired so the young adults can move back in.

Harris said the hope is to be in interim housing within a week.

Several groups in the community have donated items and money to meet the young adult’s short-term needs. Now a local restaurant is fundraising for a permanent solution.

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“We thought with this being close to the holidays, being December, and being cold this was something that was kind of at the forefront of needing to be addressed,” Jonathan Tarullo, of Volare, said.

Volare is raising funds to help rebuild the apartment. This is an unexpected cost for Boys and Girls Haven.

Harris is touched by the gesture, and is also proud of the teens in the program. He said he believes the lessons they have learned during their time at Boys and Girls Haven are helping them get through the setback.

“Kids are resilient," Harris said. "They are creative and in many ways they are taking care of each other and doing a very good job of managing a tough situation.”

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