A HandUp Update from Chris of 642 Hyde St. Fire
Tuesday, 7. Feb. 2017 at 4:02PM

Back in early 2015, there was a fire at the 642 Hyde St building in the Tenderloin that displaced 20 families. You came to the rescue with love & support. Your generous donations helped those families get back on their feet and rebuild their lives after they lost everything. Now 2 years later, we got a wonderful update from one of the displaced residents. Your support has continued to help these families to this day, thank you.

— Staff at HandUp

Having recently used the last remaining funds in my HandUp account, I'd like to share an update with the HandUp community about how I used funds donated to me. It all started on January 29, 2015, when my apartment building at 642 Hyde Street was destroyed by a catastrophic fire. The terrifying image of seeing flames and black smoke billowing out of my bedroom window, where just moments prior I had been casually changing clothes for a late-night run, is seared in my memory. I lost everything in just a few minutes--furniture, laptop and desktop computers, all my clothes, nearly all personal memorabilia, and my entire library of hundreds of books I had accumulated as a PhD candidate at the University of California Santa Cruz.

What could have remained a merely personal tragedy quickly became a priceless lesson in community solidarity and support. HandUp played a key role in facilitating, in a transparent and fair manner, the many contributions to the displaced residents of 642 Hyde St; including myself. Due to the generous support of local politicians, businesses, and concerned individuals, I received approximately $6,600 in HandUp points to help me get back on my feet. HandUp's donation and coordinating effort in a time of crisis was a critical--and much appreciated!--support that helped me rebuild a stable life.

I've learned in hindsight that recovery from a fire takes not just weeks or months, but years. HandUp's generosity and Project Connect staff were with me every step of the way. It's best to view this experience in its short, medium, and long terms. In the initial days and weeks after the fire, I used HandUp points to replace essential items, such as clothes, shoes, several dozen books essential to my dissertation research, as well as $700 to pay a certified Apple repairperson to recover data from the hard drive of my badly burned and melted laptop. In the medium run I used many HandUp points to purchase much-needed gift cards to grocery stores for food purchases. Finally, having recently moved into permanent housing following a short-term lease after the fire, HandUp points allowed me to replace hundreds of dollars of kitchen and homeware goods I need for daily living.

My HandUp account is now closed. But I will forever remember with gratitude the generosity of HandUp donors who helped me weather a personal crisis, gain closure, finish my doctorate, and, I'm happy to report, come out stronger in the end. Thank you!

Sincerely, Christopher B.

— Families of 642 Hyde St. Fire

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