Here at the Discovery Communicates Group, all of our hearts go out to the 41 families of Fitchburg, Massachusetts who have been displaced after the Johnsonia building fire that occurred on June 13, 2011. More than 60 men and women have lost their home in the iconic Johnsonia building, which stood for more than a century in Fitchburg’s historic downtown Main Street. The six-alarm fire that engulfed the two top stories of the Johnsonia has left the building uninhabitable. An estimated 1,000,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the inferno, and due to extreme fire, smoke and water damage, the building has been rendered unsafe, so occupants will not be able to recover their salvageable belongings.
Fortunately, social media is providing a meeting ground for action.
The Facebook group, Johnsonia Building Fundraiser, was created shortly after the fire and has since grown to more than 300 members. Led by advocate Andrea Neale, the group has already organized several planning committee meetings, in which to determine and assign fundraising responsibilities. The group has met several times at Destare of Fitchburg and has scheduled their next committee meeting for Tuesday, July 12. Anyone interested in helping the victims of the Johnsonia building fire are encouraged to attend and find ways to participate.
In just a week’s time, Johnsonia group members organized the Johnsonia Art Auction, which was held on July 1 at the Modern Edge Center for the Arts. During the weekend prior, children were encouraged to contribute to “the Pink Flamingo Project,” an outdoor art engagement as part of the Leominster Summer Stroll. These collaborative pieces were then auctioned off, in which all the proceeds went to the former tenants. The four pieces that were bid the highest will be on display for the entire month of July.
However, the largest and most significant upcoming event will be the Johnsonia Relief Fund Music Fest, slated for Saturday, August 6, 2011. The group is reaching out through Facebook to find bands, vendors and volunteers who want to help bring Fitchburg its most exciting festival benefit possible. A number of acts have already signed up but the organizers are still seeking additional bands to perform and are encouraged to contact Johnsonia Relief at firstname.lastname@example.org. An official band line-up will be released as the event draws nearer. All proceeds collected from the event will be donated to the Johnsonia building fire victims.
Social media has made a tremendous impact for the families affected by the fire. By connecting online, supporters have already organized, scheduled several events and coordinated with vendors and officials that will contribute further to the cause. The Johnsonia building fire victims have lost almost everything, but thanks to social-minded individuals and the platforms that allow us to connect instantly, they can begin the recovery process all the sooner. Hopefully, as interest continues to grow, support and contributions will increase and provide the families affected with the funds necessary to rebuild.