“We like to give back, because without the community we would not be here.” -Shannon Lipira
By Vianca Grullon
BROCKPORT, NY- More than two dozen residents at the Viking Apartments and Townhomes were displaced after a fire engulfed the complex. Now, donations from the Brockport community are being collected at local businesses to support the those in need.
On the early morning of October 14, a fire broke out affecting 41 people who lost many of their personal items. Soon after, donations were collected and fundraisers were set up by local businesses including Jimmy Z’s Plates and Shakes located on 53 Main Street.
Shannon Lipira, the general manager at Jimmy Z’s Plates and Shakes said helping the community is nothing new for them.
“We set up a fundraiser and the proceeds we put into the GoFundMe that they had going through social media. We do fundraisers for all types of people and situations. We dedicate a big portion of the day 11:00 AM to eight at night, anybody who mentions the fundraiser, we donated 10 percent of anybody’s check to the GoFundMe for the fire victims.” said Lipira.
Located in the heart of Brockport and being a good part of the community, Jimmy Z’s has always received a lot of support. To show thanks, they like to give back in any way they can.
The three-alarm fire ravaged through the 12-unit apartment complex leaving 41 homeless and two people hospitalized. Firefighters from two dozen other departments as far as North Greece, Genesee County, Le Roy came to assist the Brockport firefighters.
“One of our employees was, not in the fire, but the building was connected to the one that burned down. It was pretty scary for all of us. There are a couple victims that are still in the hospital, in the burn unit. One kid Tyler, he kept going in to get people out and he ended up getting really hurt.” said Lipira.
Tyler Mirra, 24, was taken to the hospital in critical condition after going back into the apartment complex to help others. The GoFundMe page has raised $38,537 out of the $30,000 goal.
Grinds 122 Cafe, located at 122 West Ave., was also involved in the fundraising efforts.
“The support we were shown was overwhelming. This shows me that our community in Brockport is very caring and thoughtful of one another whether they know the person or not.” said Nicole Battaglia, manager and cook at Grinds 122 Cafe.
The cafe provided residents of Viking Apartments & Townhouses a free meal the morning after the fire and opened their banquet hall for donations.
“We decided to use our banquet room to collect items for the families of the fire because we wanted to be there for them to help them. We had baby showers, birthday parties, meetings, etc. it has all changed now because of COVID-19. Now we use that room to organize donations for the fire victims. We received clothing for men, women, children. Blankets, dishes, jackets, shoes, toys and toiletries.” said Battaglia.
“I spoke to a few victims. They were very appreciative and emotional at the amount of support the community and we were showing them. That we cared enough to go out of our way to help them.” said Battaglia.
As donations were dropped off at the cafe, Grace Baptist Church located at 5220 Lake Rd S, stepped in to collect donations and within 24 hours, the church gymnasium was full with clothing, food, kitchen appliances and much more.
Emily Chambers, Public Relations Specialist for Reliant Credit Union, immediately partnered with Walmart when news broke out of the fire.
“As soon as we had heard about it in the news, we went into action and contacted the town and American Red Cross to see what has already been started and what we could help with and jump on board with. Walmart was very quick to start taking in donations, so we began working with them immediately.” said Chambers.
Chambers and her team at Reliant Credit Union have begun collecting a variety of donations and now are looking into providing meals and other ways to help.
“We are very appreciative of how many people and organizations jumped on helping the victims so quickly which is so nice to see in a tragic time. You see how close this community is and really makes us happy to be a part of it.” said Chambers.
The amount of support that the Brockport community has shown has been tremendous. Jimmy Z’s, Grinds 122 Café and Reliant Credit Union have collected donations ranging from food, clothing, toys, hygiene products and more.