On the night of Jan. 8, UNC senior Damaris Osorio was in the shower when she was informed that her apartment was on fire.
“It was just the hugest fire I’ve ever seen in my life,” Osorio said.
Osorio was living with her boyfriend in the L building of Carrboro’s The Villages of Chapel Hill Apartments when parts of the building erupted into flames. While she said she was scared of the fire, Osorio and her boyfriend acted as fast as they could to save the essentials — their laptops and pet bunny.
The days since the fire have been difficult for Osorio and her boyfriend. They lived in hotel rooms for a few nights following the fire and have been struggling with addressing their current and future housing plans.
The Villages of Chapel Hill also housed local families who were also affected by the fire. The PTA Thrift Shop has been working to help furnish the homes of displaced families.
Social workers at local Chapel Hill elementary schools reported the incident to PTA Thrift Shop and act as liaisons between the PTA and the affected families. Families are then given a voucher to either of the PTA’s locations and told to shop at their leisure. This falls neatly within the stated mission of the PTA — to use charitable donations to invest in the the local community, with a focus on the educational system.
In a fire as extensive and destructive as the one at the Villages, PTA Director of Facilities and Procurement Charles de Bose hopes that more people affected by fire will feel comfortable reaching out to the PTA for assistance.
“This is when community is important and it is time for folks to come together and share resources,” de Bose said. “And even though our main priority is, you know, families with kids, we are part of the community. If there was a need for something that we have excess of — beds, that kind of thing, we have no problem.”
Despite the tragic nature of the fire, PTA Executive Director Barbara Jessie-Black said the arrival of the PTA tends to bring some level of joy to the members of the community the PTA deals with.
“There’s a nice collaborative and cooperative component to this and people are excited to see us when we get there,” said Jessie-Black. “This is something that we pride ourselves in doing because we have the resources to do it.”
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