To the editor:
In my time as a news reporter, I have had the chance to write about sensational murder cases and fatal auto accidents that capture the headlines and the imagination of readers.
A veteran reporter once offered me some sage advice: "Get used to it. Bad things often happen to good people."
I have always been on the other side of the equation, relaying the misfortunes of others. This time, I was the victim. I was one of the 41 residents displaced by the Aug. 17 fire at Heritage Manor.
I was very impressed by the professionalism shown by the fire departments at the scene. Only their quick action averted what could have been a tragedy similar to what happened in Hancock a few years ago when four people perished in an apartment blaze. Not only did all the residents get out safely, the dogs and cats in the building were also rescued.
In fact, the work of all the law enforcement personnel, Red Cross volunteers and everyone involved was stellar.
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The majority of the residents at Heritage Manor are elderly. Some lost irreplaceable possessions and keepsakes. But thanks to the compassion and sincerity shown by (Houghton Housing Commission director) Sherry Hughes and her staff, they are slowly regaining their sense of belonging.
Some residents were housed for a time at Michigan Technological University's Wadsworth and McNair Halls, where they were treated like royalty by the staff. Some now are living with relatives, others are in long-term facilities. A half dozen of us have relocated to the GardenView Assisted Living & Memory Care, where we have been treated with kindness.
When residents were allowed back into their apartments to pick up possessions, a virtual squadron of Tech students assisted them. Some even offered condolences to distraught residents - all the time working hard at their task.
The Pigs-n-Heat Fund supplied a much-needed $300 for each resident. Then the Copper Country community kicked in with everything from furniture to mattresses. The outpouring of donations has been nothing short of heartwarming. Items have come in from as far away as Ontonagon, Marquette and Iron counties.
As a lifelong resident of the Copper Country, I've always known this was a special place; it's why my wife and I raised our four children here.
But I never fully realized just how special a place this really is.