By Jessica Easthope
Guillermo, Maxwell and Marta Sanchez lost everything, but today they’re counting their blessings.
“It could have been any one of us, by the grace of God we managed to get out,” said Maxwell Sanchez who was on the sixteenth floor of his 181st Street apartment building with his father, Guillermo.
When the flames broke out, Marta thought her husband and son were dead. She was at her parish, St. Simon Stock when she got a call from a neighbor that brought her to her knees.
“I said my family died, I just prayed, I believe in God and I said God you know how much I believe in you, take care of my family,” she said.
The family wasn’t reunited until after Guillermo and Maxwell waited for hours for firefighters to help them navigate the thick black smoke. The Sanchezes are one family of hundreds who are being assisted by local organizations and Catholic Charities of New York.
“It’s so important extending our humanity despite the challenges we have to first know the people, we have to learn about them and just touch them first and we’ll serve whatever role necessary in each person’s case,” said Father Eric Cruz, Bronx Coordinator for Catholic Charities of New York.
Local parishes and food pantries are getting together donations and Catholic Charities is assisting with everything from burials, to housing and immigration services but Father Cruz says the first step is letting them know help is on the way.
“We can’t just dive in, it’s a process, we have to make that initial contact, let them know that we’re there for them, we’re going to be there for them in prayer and in life they will not travel and walk alone,” he said.
Despite their loss, the Sanchez family says they’re the lucky ones.
“The screams from the neighbors from different floors it keeps replaying in my head. It definitely strengthened all of our faith in God and we just have so much to be thankful for,” said Maxwell.
The Sanchezes haven’t heard if they’ll be able to return to their home or if there’s a home left, but for now they’re continuing to thank God.