Help us help a single mother

As your firefighters and paramedics you often call on us in your hour of need.  We assist not only because it is our job but because it is our calling.  We are called when you are having your worst day but after a while responding to personal tragedies builds on us.  Sometimes enough becomes enough and we feel the need to do a little more.  Recently Paramedic Firefighter Norman Bolanos had enough.  Norman has been a Firefighter in Menlo Park for nearly two years and was a Paramedic and EMT in our County working for two years prior to that.  Norman took the extra time to organize his fellow Firefighters Matt Pruitt and Brian Berger off dutry with the aid of Danny Giraudo's truck they helped out a mother in need.   We are sharing the following story in hopes that it motivates you to help us help a single mother who has fallen on hard times and is in need of assistance, any help would be greatly appreciated…      

Last summer the collective crews of Fire Station 2 ran several medical aids on a man who had cancer that was missed by his doctors.  He was only diagnosed when his illness developed into stage 4 cancer.  The disease eventually took his life last October.  This man was a father who lived with his daughter and his three year old grand-daughter.  He helped to provide for his daughter who was a single mother.

After her father passed away, the single mother continued to rent the apartment that was a converted garage in East Palo Alto.  In the months following her father’s death, this single mother ended up having to call 911 to have the crews of Station 2 respond to her home due to her daughter having respiratory issues on several occasions.

On one such occasion, the firefighters of Station 2 made mention to the single mother that her home had a strong odor of mold and that the odor may be a factor in the child’s breathing problem.  They told her that the property should be checked for mold and Norman Bolanos went as far as to tell her that if she needs help that we had the ability to connect her to resources.

This week the single mother came to Station 2 in tears.  She had recently found out that her home had ‘black mold’ and was advised that she needed to move for the safety of her child.  She made arrangements to temporarily move in with her brother in Richmond but she needed to store all of her furnishings as her brother’s home did not have enough room for all of her and her daughter’s belongings.  She had just enough money to pay for a single storage unit but did not have the funds to rent a truck or the assistance she needed to move. 

She came to Station 2 looking for the ‘bald’ firefighter that told her we had access to resources.  Brian Berger immediately thought of Matt Pruitt but as it turned out Norman Bolanos was the firefighter in question.  It did not take long for Brian, Norman and Matt to agree to help this single mother move her possessions into storage.

When Matt, Norman and Brian got off duty they attempted to secure a moving van from U-Haul in East Palo Alto.  U-Haul did not open until 9am so they recruited Dan Giraudo, who was coming on duty, to assist in the endeavor by loaning his personal truck to the cause. 

After three hours of moving, it was apparent that the single rental space this single mother rented was not going to be large enough to house all of her belongings.  She went back to the rental office to attempt to rent a second space but was unable to do so because she did not have the $215 needed.  Our men not only spent their day off moving her and her child’s belongings into storage but came up with the funds to make it happen.

Any funds to help this single mother get back on her feet would be much appreciated.  Her only income was being an UBER Driver, a job she lost prior to losing her father when she was in an auto wreck and lost her car.  She has two additional children that are living with her ex due to not being able to support them.  She needs enough money to place down on a car for work and a deposit on a new home.   All she wants is for her family to be back together.


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Johnny Wu 
Redwood City, CA
San Mateo County Firefighters Foundation 
Registered nonprofit
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