LANCASTER — On June 6, Marsha Juarez received a devastating phone call: her house on Lakeview Drive, that she shared with her husband, Victor, and nine kids had caught fire due to an electrical malfunction. Marsha went to the house to see if anything could be salvaged, but nothing could.
“I just broke down,” she said. “There was nothing else I could do.”
The family stayed in Danville’s Super 8 Motel, courtesy of the Red Cross, for three days, then paid for two days.
Marsha said people began to immediately step up to help the newly-rooted family, including Lancaster Baptist Church and individual members of the community.
“They’re angels theirself,” she said.
The family acquired a temporary home on Curtis Lane courtesy of Barb and Kenneth Montgomery. But the yard needed a bit of work before they could actually move in. So members of the church used weed trimmers and mowers to cut the long grass and provided indoor work for the family.
“The first night we slept on cots ... and made pallets,” Marsha said. “We just did whatever we could.”
One day, Marsha decided to drive back to her old place to see if anything was there, because she’d heard people were leaving items for the family. And when she arrived, she could barely get in the driveway because of the number of people working on the house and donating items.
“I don’t know where they come from, I don’t even know who all these people are,” she said. “But I know God sent them, you know, because without Him, we wouldn’t have got what we got.”
While Marsha said the family has enough items to fill up the three-bedroom home they’re in now, downsized from a seven-bedroom, there are still expenses to be paid.
The couple’s twins, Adriana and Nicholas Juarez, 6, both suffer from cystic fibrosis, a terminal disease that causes a mucus buildup in the body. The fire destroyed the twins’ breathing machines, which each cost $14,000. And while the family is glad to have new ones now, Marsha is worried about paying for them.
Twice a day, the twins have to don a vest connected to the machines, which create percussion that loosens the mucus in their chests. As Nicholas sat and watched TV on Thursday, Adriana clung to her mother begging Marsha to take off the vest and make the pain stop.
“The babies’ lives are more important to me than any house or anything we could ever own,” Marsha said before taking a moment to collect herself.
“People are trying so hard to help us, but, you know, they keep giving us all these worldly possessions. If I didn’t have my babies, there would be no reason for me to live anymore either. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
She said that while Nicholas sleeps with the boys and Adriana sleeps with the girls, she has a trundle bed set up in the parents’ room. She wants them to feel like they’re with everyone else, but she always wants to keep an eye on them.
“I’ve got to be able to hear them breathe,” she said. “People got them a toddler bed and put it in our room. It’s just been ... so much. I don’t know.”
Marsha said it’s difficult having such a financial burden over her head, because if she uses the money from her account, the children will have so little.
“They look at me and they say ‘Mommy, are we gonna get our iPods back, are we gonna get all this stuff back?’” she said. “And I say, ‘Kids, I’m gonna try is all I can say.’ Because they’re little, they don’t understand.”
When the family left to stay at the Super 8 Motel, Marsha said she left Nicholas’ car toy out by the garage, and when they came by the next day to retrieve it, it had been stolen.
“He thinks it’s in the garage, but it’s not,” she said. “But I can’t bring myself to tell him it’s gone.”