A family displaced by a fire in early May received $10,000 in donations Monday to help them settle into their new home.
Gabriel Alviter and Elisa Aquino and their five children were forced out of their home at the corner of Third and D streets on May 3 when a fire caused serious damage to the two-bedroom house they had been renting.
The family turned to the Tracy Family Resource Center, where Silvia Vera, a service integration coordinator, took on their plight and began raising donations May 10.
“When I found out about the need, I started by doing a live video,” Vera said. “Then I started getting people from the community wanting to donate furniture, clothes, but what they were really needing was a roof over their head.”
Fundraising efforts led by Tracy Family Resource Center and the Hispanic Business Group of the Tracy Chamber of Commerce began to gather funds from residents, business owners and community organizations.
The goal was to collect enough money to pay the upfront cost for a new rental in Tracy for the family, including a security deposit and two months’ rent.
“They were struggling to just get someone to rent them out a home because of all the requirements,” Vera said. “They were desperate to get out of where they were staying, which was their sister’s house on the living room floor.”
As money came in from the community — including a fundraiser sponsored by Carl’s Jr., a gift of $500 from the Tracy Police Officers Association, and a raffle organized by Boost Mobile — local farmer and businessman Mike Sandhu stepped in and pledged a donation to bring the fundraising total to $10,000.
Alviter and Aquino have now moved their family into a south Tracy home where their rent is $1,800 a month, twice what they had been paying before the fire. On Monday, Alviter thanked everyone who helped his family find a new home.
“I am going to say thank you to the Tracy community, I appreciate your help so far to whatever people do to me and my family with time, money — anything given to us, I appreciate,” Alviter said. “To every person who gave us one penny, I say thank you.”
He said he and his family were working hard to start from scratch, as much of what they owned was damaged in the fire.
“To rebuild my family and make it great again, because we lost everything — we start from zero,” he said. “Now we have a place to stay with my kids.”
David Eveler, community development manager with Community Partnership for Families of San Joaquin, praised the efforts of the people in Tracy who rallied around the family.
“In the old days, when a barn would burn down, the community would come together and rebuild the barn,” Eveler said. “In that spirit, that’s what we have in the Tracy community.”
At the check presentation, Sandhu donated an additional $1,900 specifically for the Alviter children and gave a separate $10,000 donation to the Tracy Family Resource Center in recognition of its work.
Meredith Baker, executive director of Community Partnership for Families of San Joaquin, gave Vera a certificate of appreciation for her efforts at the center and on behalf of the Alviter family.