Lazaro Perez: West Chicago community comes through for neighbors
A crisis tests character. And a compassionate response to a local tragedy proved West Chicago to be a community that rallies for a neighbor in need.
Less than two weeks after a three-alarm fire at Timber Lake apartment complex in West Chicago destroyed 24 apartment units, families impacted by the blaze are being resettled in new apartments with furnishings. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many, the 90 residents — 36 of them children — will have a new place to call home in time for the holidays.
The fire, which occurred Nov. 4, was discovered in a third-floor apartment and is still under investigation. Its cause has not yet been determined.
Fire companies from Winfield, Wheaton, Carol Stream, Bartlett, Bloomingdale, St. Charles, Batavia, Glen Ellyn, Warrenville, Hanover Park, Elgin and Naperville assisted. Also at the scene were Acting Mayor Ruben Pineda and Alderman Rebecca Stout in their role as elected officials and members of the Citizen Emergency Response Team.
The American Red Cross and Wheaton Bible Church/Iglesia del Pueblo were on-hand to assess the needs of the victims that day. Northridge Holdings, the apartment management company, worked with Wheaton Bible Church/Igesia del Pueblo to resettle each of the families.
Commonwealth Edison worked closely with the city to restore power to unoccupied units, which were used to house the displaced families. Within 24 hours of the fire, each of the affected households was given 40 gallon bins of basic necessities that had poured in from the community to assist the families for the first few days.
The business community stepped up in a big way. Sharing Connections in Downers Grove assisted in securing furniture for the fire victims, and West Chicago Police Detective Robbi Peterson coordinated a donation through Sleep Innovations of West Chicago, which will provide two queen-size mattresses, plus pillows, for each new residence.
A crisis also tests preparedness. And a unified response from West Chicago’s large network of emergency responders, organizations, entities and individuals proves that solid community partnerships makes all the difference.
Lazaro “Laz” Perez is the chief of police for the city of West Chicago
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