A Neighbor in Need

Last Sunday at 2:00 AM, I woke to flashing lights from fire engines right outside our bedroom window.  The neighbor’s house, catty-corner to ours, was on fire.  It is a haunting, unforgettable image to see a house that you gaze upon over a dozen times a day to be destroyed in minutes.

Up until the day after the fire, I had never officially met the neighbor that lived in this house.  I walked my dogs by her house every day, would wave, but never actually exchanged words with her.  All I knew about the resident of this older, peach-colored farmhouse on the corner was that she ran a group home for three mentally challenged adults.  The afternoon after the fire, I stopped by to inquire about the health and safety of everyone in the house and offer any type of assistance.  I was pretty confident that no one was seriously injured as my husband and I had not witnessed any rescue activity the night before.

I met Joyce Corkran for the first time that afternoon.  She seemed to be an earnest, strong, selfless woman.  She had woken up in time to get her three mentally handicapped clients (two men and one woman) and her cat and dog out safely in time.   After speaking with Joyce and her two sisters, I learned that Joyce lost everything.  Joyce had been graciously living in her aunt’s house with her three clients for years.  Now she has no house, no furniture, no clothes, even her mother’s doll collection was lost in the fire.  What struck me so profoundly was that this woman, who has been battling cancer for years, has now lost all her material possessions, including a place to live, but yet her attitude was just remarkable.  It became apparent, after talking with the three sisters, that Joyce has not had an easy life.  Whereas many people would have been frozen in shock for days and weeks over the dramatic loss, Joyce instead accepted this recent tragedy and literally rolled up her sleeves and dug into the charred remains to salvage what she could.  The one thing that seemed to preoccupy and worry her was trying to maintain a routine and schedule for her three clients –whose lives were now in upheaval too.

I am writing to ask that if anyone has any furniture (dressers, double beds, kitchen table, chairs, etc.), clothes (men’s and women’s), or even money they are willing to donate, please consider donating them to Joyce and her family.  She is also looking for a reasonably-priced house to rent in Caroline County (in order for her to continue to care for her three residents she has to live in Caroline County) that has four bedrooms. 

Joyce and her clients are currently staying with her sister, Betty, in Federalsburg.  If you are able to help Joyce and her extended “family” in anyway, please call Betty or Joyce at 410-754-8301.

This is a link to photos of the fire from a local fire watch/photography website: http://www.fithp.net/story.asp?ID=794

Thank you.