SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) — The work to get the victims of the Sun Prairie explosion back on their feet took the help of the whole community.
Dozens of fundraisers started up almost immediately, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Before the explosion, the Sunshine Place was already helping families in Sun Prairie.
Following the tragedy their work became essential for so many.
“It was taking the work that we already do in the community and then multiplying it by 35,” Joanna Cervantes, Sunshine Place Executive Director, said.
In the first days after the explosion, Cervantes says they weren’t sure exactly how they were going to take care of the more than 100 people who needed their help.
Many of them wouldn’t have needed help before the explosion.
“So when the Bank of Sun Prairie said, ‘We will raise funds and of the funds that we raise, your clients can benefit from it,’ we said absolutely … sign us up,” Cervantes said.
The Sun Prairie Disaster Relief Fund ended up totaling more than $500,000.
$230,000 of that went to the Sunshine Place to help the people in the city who lost their homes, or jobs, in the blast.
“Security deposit, first months rent, food, clothing, household items,” Cervantes gave as examples.
Cervantes says that’s when the mood changed.
“It was a very monumental step for the families to know that they could safely go and acquire new housing and that the community was standing right behind them get back on their feet,” she said.
She says even a year later, some people are still relying on their help.
Ever since they helped the people who lived on or near the corner of Main and Bristol in Sun Prairie, Cervantes says now people know how the Sunshine Place can help during in the case of an emergency.
Because of that they’re in the process of expanding their building, to have even more room for supplies.