A Wonderful Example Of Compassion Through Loving Your Neighbor
(This is the final installment of our four-part Year in Review)
When tragedy strikes a community, the character of it’s people is revealed. Never was this more true than with the recent Bronx Fire, which took the lives of 12 people last Thursday, and ripped at the heart of a small neighborhood known as Belmont. Amongst the many heroes that often remain anonymous, there were a few glowing examples of how humanity was designed by God to function in a crisis situation.
We found one such person just two blocks from the deadliest fire in NYC in more than 25 years. Reverend Cosme Fernandes, who can be found serving the community of Belmont at St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church, has served as a point person for outreach, as well as a leader that provides spiritual uplift for many residents that were directly impacted by this tragedy.
“Many of you asked me how we should make sense of this tragedy,” said Fernandes. “Brothers, I don’t have all the answers. But we can live through this event by supporting each other.”
Fire broke out around dinner time, just before local shop owners were about to close up in the largely immigrant neighborhood, at the brown five-story building at 2363 Prospect Ave, just two blocks from Rev. Fernandes’ Church.
Such an outpouring of love in his community did he witness that they actually had to post signs to inform people they could no longer accept donations. Not because they did not appreciate it, but they simply had no room for all that was being offered! A drive for goods to benefit the fire victims was started by the local Police and Fire Departments. But they were forced to stop after one day because of the overwhelming support.
Another true hero of this horrifying holiday disaster, was an Army National Guard soldier. Emmanuel Mensah, 26, who immigrated from Ghana several years ago. He live in the 5-story building where the blaze started. Many witnesses reported that Emmanuel had rescued his neighbors and relatives that were trapped in neighboring buildings.
Unfortunately, Emmanuel could not save himself as he never made it out of the building. He put others ahead of himself and paid with his life. He was a true hero! “According to those who saw him, he came out about three times helping people out, and then the fourth time he went back to help, he didn’t come back,” said Twun Bredu, Emmanuel’s uncle. Bredu states he saw Emmanuel helped rescue a family of six, including four small children, before he was never seen again.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was recently sworn in for another term, spoke with reverence about the fallen soldier. “Private Emmanuel Mensah was a first-generation immigrant, a soldier, and a New Yorker. He gave his life rescuing his neighbors in the Bronx fire,” de Blasio said in a tweet Saturday afternoon. “His heroism exemplifies the best of our city. Rest in peace.”
“Many of you asked me how we should make sense of this tragedy. Brothers, I don’t have all the answers. But we can live through this event by supporting each other.”
Father Cosme Hernandez
Fortunately for the rest of us, giving back to others and helping in time of need does not mean putting your own life at risk. But these stories serve a a beautiful testimony to the human spirit. And they demonstrate how we should be prepared to give whatever is required when the situation call for it.
Our Savior laid down His life for us. How much should we be willing to give for our fellow man? When beautiful souls, such as Emmanuel Mensah and Fr. Cosme Fernandes, make themselves available, it gives people hope, it inspires others to help, and it demonstrates the love of our Father in Heaven for all of mankind. We were designed to be this way. At some point, many of God’s people walked away from this. The void was filled with other entities that do not have our best interest at heart. One of those is government.
By giving to others, we provide a sense of humanity and immediate assistance that government will never provide. In 2018, let’s commit to helping others in time of need and giving back, by making ourselves available to serve our fellow man. And in the process we will gradually reduce our dependency on an entity that will never be able to provide what we really need- the human touch.
(Chris Gaines is an author and Editor-In-Chief of Patriot Gaines. He resides in the Cedar Valley of Northern Iowa with his wife, Jennifer, and two kids, Patrick & Megan)
Photo Sources: New York Times
Article Source: New York Times, Overwhelmed by Donations for Survivors of Fatal Bronx Fire, Luis Ferre-Sadurní, 12.31.17, CBS New York, Man Hailed as Hero for Helping Others Escape Safely, Newsday, Soldier Hailed as Hero for Helping Neighbors Escape Deadly Bronx Fire, Matthew Chayes, 12.30.17