NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A fire and rescue house for Nacogdoches and the first in Texas is a story we've been following from the ground up. Today a milestone was reached; it's officially open and ready to serve a person in need.
Although idea started with one man, it quickly involved a community.
The Fire and Rescue House in Nacogdoches hosted its first party. Guests were invited to tour the open house. As they walked through the house, one guest said, "Oh, this is beautiful."
The three-bedroom, one bath house will be much more to the next tenants. Captain Nick Boland of the Nacogdoches Fire Department said they'll be fire victims or people in a state of homelessness asking, "What are we going to do now? We've lost everything in the fire and our house is burnt up. And what are we going to do and where we gonna go?"
There's now an answer, thanks to George Barham, a local businessman. Almost two years ago, he asked the community's help to build a fire rescue house on land he was donating. Slowly, but surely donations and offers of help began arriving. Once the house was built, Barham handed over the keys to Love In the Name of Christ.
"It just made better sense to have a local group and no other group than love INC to take the house and be able to do the day to day functions and administer to the needs of fire victims," Barham said.
"It seemed like a real gift from God that we couldn't turn down," Wanda Cuniff, Love, INC's former board president, said. "And there's definitely a need for it here in Nacogdoches."
Barham's home burned when he was five years old - the same age Laura Williford was when her home burned.
"The memory is very vivid to me even though it happened to me as a child," Laura Williford, a former fire victim, said. "I know having a place like this for a family and a child will be such a blessing. "
And the blessing is spreading. Barham is offering floor plans and guidance, so fire and rescue homes can be built in other communities.
The Nacogdoches Fire Department and American Red Cross will oversee the application process for fire victims to live in the home. Donations from civic organizations and businesses will be used to take care of appliances, household needs and insurance.