While the residents of the Rolling Green apartment complex stood outside of their apartments watching different fire departments work together to tame the blaze, the American Red Cross worked to ensure the safety of the victims. The Red Cross workers gave the residents food, clothing, shoes, and bedding vouchers, so they could begin to rebuild their lives. Several apartments were entirely gutted, leaving the residents to begin anew and the Red Cross’ presence helped begin that process.
The immediate safety of the residents was the Red Cross’ first concern, but quickly after, the Red Cross, the Rolling Green Apartment staff, and the University of Massachusetts turned their attention toward temporary housing. The Red Cross focused on helping those who were displaced search for new apartments or temporary shelter with family and friends. Rolling Green offered available units to their tenants, and UMass presented students with the option of campus housing in addition to offering temporary housing at the campus hotel.
Beyond shelter, emotional and psychological impacts had to be considered. Being awoken in the middle of the night to discover that your life is in danger and saving your most prized possessions may not be an option can be a traumatizing experience for victims. Additionally, for those who knew James Hoffman, a 21 year old UMass student who passed away in the fire, a support system was a necessity. As a result, UMass offered psychological assistance to students in the form of counseling services and spiritual support services.
Furthermore, in case of emergency, the Dean of Students Office has an emergency loan fund, according to UMass spokesman Edward F. Blaguszewski on masslive.com, which is dedicated to supporting students during unexpected events such as this. Not only was UMass able to offer housing, support services, and emergency loans, but in addition, UMass offered meal plans, parking permits, and academic resources according to an email sent by the Dean of Students, Enku Gelaye, to the UMass community.
While the actions taken by these groups seems helpful, I can’t help but wonder how helpful affected students found these offerings, as well as how long they continued to receive aid. Additionally, I want to go on to investigate how students who were not directly affected contributed to the aid of their peers if they had any interest in contributing at all. In the coming days I hope to answer these questions, and I hope you’ll keep reading to learn more!