Willie Hernandez, his wife Carmen and their two teenage daughters, Ema and Ashlyn, lost their home and all their possessions in a fire on Aug. 6. Their dog woke them up, barking at 2 a.m., and saved their lives.

The four-alarm fire in Waltham left 17 people homeless. The triple-decker home was a total loss. Five people were sent to the hospital and all have been released.

The cause of the fire was probably electrical, starting in the second-floor kitchen. The home was up to code with the appropriate smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Two other families were also left homeless.

With nowhere else to go, Willie and his family have been living in a single motel room while they figure out their next step. The remains of the house are to be torn down and decisions need to be made about rebuilding. In the meantime, two girls need to be outfitted for school in less than two weeks.

Jim Lee, the principal of Happy Hollow Elementary School, has set up a fund for the Hernandez family at gofundme.com. The immediate need is to get the girls ready for school. They need everything – cell phones, computer, clothing, shoes, etc. If you have teenage girls, you know how important it is to be properly outfitted for school!

Clothing sizes are as follows: Willie is men’s size large shirt, 36/30 pants, shoe size of 9-1/2; Carmen is size 8, shoe size of 7-1/2; the girls are size 12 and 14, shoe size of 11.

Please leave donations in the clear plastic box in the Happy Hollow lobby, or call Willie at 508-358-2120, ext. 122, to make arrangements for drop off or pick up.

This family needs everything to rebuild their lives – furniture, electronics, bedding, kitchenware, clothing, etc. His insurance company is looking for a three-bedroom apartment in Waltham for Sept. 1 and will cover the cost of six months rent. Good things happen to good people. Now it’s up to us, as a community, to look through our basements, attics and closets for whatever you no longer need or use, and please donate it to this wonderful man and his family.

As a community it’s important to come together to help one of our own. Willie has worked for the town for almost 30 years. I remember Willie from when my son went to Happy Hollow. He is much beloved by the children and their parents. Happy Hollow would not be the same without him. Please help and donate whatever you can to help make this family whole again.

Willie is also working to help his tenants who lost all their possessions in the fire as well. He has refunded their security deposits and rent so they can use the money for their families. He also carried insurance for them, at his own expense, so they will be partially reimbursed for their losses. As far as I’m concerned, Willie is a hero, and someone we want our children to look up to and emulate.

Willie has expressed his gratitude and wants to thank the community for supporting him and his family during their time of need. As a husband and father, he is committed to taking care of his loved ones.
Thank you to the community for helping Willie make a new home for his family!