This past week, there was an apartment fire in Montpelier. It displaced eight families, two of them with direct connections to Montpelier Public Schools: one of our employees and one of our families was living in that building.
At 1:40 PM, I received an e-mail from the City Manager, letting me know there was a structure fire in town. Based on the address, we were able to determine whom was impacted by this fire, thanks to some quick work by our Data Manager, Chris Ilstrup. Before long, I had assigned the family "homeless" status, which makes several resources available immediately. We were able to speak directly with the impacted employee, who did not have a lot of information at that point.
Before the end of the day, we were able to be in touch with the counselor of the family impacted by the fire. Through that relationship, we established a means of communication to connect with the family. Another staff member in MPS would be the main point of communication to our affected employee, ensuring we would not overwhelm anyone by reaching out.
In my experience, those of us who are aware of situations like this immediately feel the need to "do something," and that can put pressure on those who have already been through so much. While the urge to do something is palpable from our perspective, often it is best to wait to see what the real need is. These situations are not about us, and our need to help and do; it is about those who may have lost everything.
I am proud of the MPS response. It was patient and allowed (and is allowing) those impacted by this fire to let us know what they need. We have placed envelopes in each building to collect donations for both the family and the employee. Friends of the family have started a GoFundMe page and while several asked to start one for the impacted employee, he kindly and respectfully declined. We are listening to his wishes. It is not about us.
My sincere thanks to Bill Fraser, the City Manager of Montpelier, for sending that e-mail on Tuesday afternoon. I don't, and cannot, serve Montpelier alone. I'm humbled and grateful to have wonderful people around me to ensure that we care for each and everyone connected to Montpelier Public Schools.