Missing man who walked away from Petersburg mental health facility

Community rallies behind Chester family who lost everything in house fire: ‘We are in this together’

CHESTER, Va. -- Grateful and emotional are the words that come to mind for Nae Boersma as she talks about the outpouring of support her family has received after a fire destroyed their Chester home.

While the family lost everything in the fire, Nae, her husband Russell, and their seven children escaped without injury.

Boersma broke down while thinking about how repeated fire safety training with her children paid off that day as her son managed to get her babies to safety.

“I love them so much. I never want anybody to go through this or lose anyone. So, practice, just practice and talk to them. Kids, they will take it in. They learn. They are resilient,” said Boersma through tears.

Nae Boersma

The family is now trying to piece it all back together again, but they’re not in it alone.

They say an incredible community wrapped its arms around them and is helping in a major way.

Boersma says their family is humbled to know that a GoFundMe created to help her family has already raised more than $3,000.

Bags of donations are coming in and so are calls from community members eager to help.

The Elizabeth Davis Middle School PTA and RC Health and Fitness are spearheading collection efforts.

“What can we do? What do you need? No hesitation. To be able to see this spirit has been an amazing feeling,” said Joy Sickinger, PTA president at Davis.

Restaurants are donating gift cards while Happy Boxes Self Storage, a local outreach organization and some parents are covering the cost of a storage unit to hold donated items.

“We love this family. We are in this together. It’s tragic. We hate that it happened, especially around the holidays, but what better time to come together and love on people,” said family friend Nicole Wilson.

“Being able to come together to help is what we are intended to do. We are here to bring each other up,” said Rotha Covington with RC Health and Fitness.

The family feels the love lifting them up and vow to pay it forward.

“I wish I could let people know how much the support, all the calls, all of the love and donations have meant to us,” said Boersma through tears.

Donations can be dropped off at RC Health and Fitness in the Chesterfield Meadows West shopping center on Iron Bridge Road and at Elizabeth Davis Middle School in Chester.

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