Maywood Family of 7, Displaced by Fire, Looking to Rebuild from the Wreckage

Photos of the aftermath of an April 17 electrical fire that engulfed the home of Virgil and Patricia Crawford, located on the 800 block of South 17th Avenue. | Photos courtesy of the Crawfords || Below: Virgil Crawford, a full-time community organizer, in the field in Maywood in 2013. | File photo || Click on any image above to enlarge

Virgil Crawford Talking From His Mobile LoudspeakersWednesday, April 27, 2016 || By Michael Romain || Updated: 5:00 p.m.

When an April 17 electrical fire engulfed their Maywood home, located on the 800 block of South 7th Avenue, the world of Virgil and Patricia Crawford — and the five children living under their roof — crumbled into chaos. They’re now left picking up the smoldering pieces.

“We’re still trying to dig out the debris,” said Virgil Crawford during a phone interview on Wednesday. “We’ve gotten most of it and are almost down to the cleanup. We’re also trying to get that old smoke smell out. Soon, I’ll be looking forward to repairs.”

According to a Maywood Fire Department incident report, the fire was caused by faulty wiring and started in the bedroom where Crawford’s 9- and 13-year-old daughters sleep. The fire also displaced the couple’s 19- and 20-year-old sons and a 1-year-old granddaughter.

Crawford, a community organizer for a Chicago nonprofit, said the family is now sharing the basement apartment of a friend who lives down the street from them. The fire meant that he had to take about a week off from work, he said.

“We’re fortunate that they offered us boarding while we’re between homes,” Crawford said. “It’s really been a big help.”

Crawford said his daughters lost all of their clothes, mattresses and bedroom furniture. The fire also destroyed numerous computer equipment in another room the family used as an office. He put a conservative estimate for the damage at upwards of $20,000.

“The fire department did a great job of trying to save as much as they could during the fire,” said Patricia Crawford. Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh noted that the fire took about an hour to extinguish.

The personal items that were lost, however, will need to be replaced, to say nothing of the extensive structural repairs, which include a complete rewiring of the home, installing new walls, painting the interior and refilling holes in the home’s roofs made by firefighters in order to ventilate the blaze.

Crawford said he’s feeling blessed nobody in his family suffered any injuries and that they’ve had the critical support of their church — Every Block A Village in Chicago. Anyone who wants to support the Crawford family can contact the church’s pastor, Percy Giles, at (773) 682-6045. VFP

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In honor of the late Lennel Grace, a tireless Maywood advocate for clean paths, sidewalks and streets, attend this year’s annual Illinois Prairie Path Cleanup, Saturday, April 30, 8:45 a.m. to 12 p.m., starting at 11th Avenue and Prairie Path, in Maywood. RSVP JoAnn Murphy, so she can plan accordingly.

Operation Uplift to host April 30 reunion kickoff/fundraiser, in lieu of annual luncheon

West TownOperation Uplift, the Maywood nonprofit that operates the West Town Museum of Cultural History and hosts an annual Martin Luther King, Jr., luncheon, has announced that it will be hosting a reunion kickoff to help support and bring awareness to its daily services in lieu of a luncheon this year.

“Please help us continue to provide more cultural awareness to our local community, stimulate individual growth,  community pride, and educate the Proviso Township area about the collections of art, artifacts and significant historical materials we hold within our doors,” according to a recent release put out by the organization.

The reunion kickoff activities will include educational tours, an African attire fashion show, live entertainment and food.

It will take place on Saturday, April 30, from 1 PM to 4 PM, at Operation Uplift/West Town Museum, 104 S. 5th Avenue, Maywood.

Donations or pledges of any amount are greatly appreciated. Those who give via checks should make them payable to: Operation Uplift, Inc.

For more information please call Jeri Stenson at 708-289-4955 or email operationupliftinc@gmail.com. VFP

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