Neighbors Helping Neighbors work to clear property so local family can rebuild home lost to fire

Posted Aug. 30, 2011, at 3:49 p.m.

Thanks to the efforts of some caring residents of Orrington and the surrounding area, major efforts are under way to assist the family of John and Ruth York and their children, Michael, 17, and Eva, 12, return to the property they once called home.

In 2008, the York family lost their home, which was located off Route 15 on the corner of Blake Road and Settler’s Way in Orrington, to fire.

Terry Bladen of Orrington recently became aware of the family’s situation and decided something needed to be done to help the Yorks.

He learned that while the finances came through so that the mortgage on the property was taken care of, the Yorks did not have sufficient financing to clean up the property after the fire and were thus unable to rebuild.

The couple was able to find a place to rent so their children could remain in the Orrington school system, and they have tried to resume as normal a life as possible, which has not been easy.

“Their life was really just turned upside down,” Bladen said of the situation he describes as “heartbreaking.”

He is especially concerned that a man who served his country is without a home to call his own.

Bladen said that John York served 12 years in the military, which included a tour of the Middle East.

York is a member of the security department at Verso in Bucksport, and his wife works for Hascom Well Drilling in Orrington.

When Bladen first heard about the York family, he set to work making connections and seeking assistance from a variety of sources.

“They were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” he said, shaking his head.

Bladen’s effort to assist the Yorks became the organization he calls “Neighbors Helping Neighbors.”

That group now consists of friends, neighbors, members of area churches, organizations and individuals who have come together to do what they can to help this family clean up the site and, hopefully, make it possible for them to rebuild their home.

Bladen talked with members of the Brewer Eagles Club, for example, whose members promptly made a generous donation to the York Family Fund at People’s Bank in Orrington.

And he spoke with several other individuals who simply reached into their pockets and made donations on the spot.

Bladen also talked with representatives of three area businesses and is happy to report that their assistance has greatly reduced the cost of the fire cleanup.

“In fact, it has enabled the cleanup to really happen. Without their help, we couldn’t do it,” he said.

With the assistance of employees from BBI Waste Industries, Casella Waste Systems Inc., D & H Construction, and many volunteers, the cleanup will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at the York property. Anyone who wants to help is welcome.

But, in addition to the cleanup, other fundraisers are in the works to help the Yorks rebuild.

Bladen enlisted the assistance of East Orrington Congregational Church Pastor of Ministry the Rev. Dr. David Lester and Pastor Jon Ouellette of The Lighthouse Church of God in Orrington, who have agreed to assist with a benefit dinner for the family.

That event is 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, at EEOC, 38 Johnson Mill Road. Admission is by donation.

“The pieces of the puzzle are coming together,” Bladen said of the efforts of members of these churches and all the other folks who have so generously offered their time, talents and donations to help the York family recover from this loss.

If you are able to attend the benefit dinner or help with the cleanup or just want more information, Bladen would be happy to talk with you, and you can reach him at 949-8703.

If you are unable to participate but want to assist the effort financially, you can make a check payable to the York Family Fund and mail it in care of People’s Bank, 191 River Road, Orrington 04474.

“There have been some very generous donations to the York Fund,” Bladen said, adding that “it has really been uplifting to be involved” in helping the Yorks rebuild their lives and their home.

“They’re a very nice family.”

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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