NYC Fire Homeless Single Mom/3 Kids

All it takes is one moment for your entire life to go up in flames. Literally. On March 26th at 3:17 PM, an explosion rang down 2nd Avenue. The building around the corner from my apartment - my home where I've lived for 36 years, since I was a graduate student in 1979 - went up in flames. Within hours,  the home I always knew, the home where I've lived alone with my 3 children - Rose, 8, and twins James and Annabelle, 5 - was gone.

My name is Diane McLean and I am a single mom with three kids trying everything in my power to figure out how to possibly reconstruct the life I had in the East Village for more than 3 decades. I work with psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers in the South Bronx at a city hospital in order to help underserved kids. My job is more than a job - it has been a calling and vocation to help low-income families with kids who struggle with mental and behavioral health  problems such as trauma, depression, ADHD, and learning disorders. I talk to kids every day about finding goodness in the world - it's all I ever wanted to do.

Today, I had to tell my kids about the courageous firemen who did everything they could to save their beds, scooters, stuffed animals, the piano they always practiced at after school, the finger-paintings they made in Kindergarten, the place that my 5-year-old James once proclaimed was "the greatest place on Earth!"

I am a single mom of three precious children who I've raised on my own with the help of student-babysitters and nannies. The fact that I had lived in this rent-stabilized apartment since the 70's made it possible for me to raise my children in the wonderfully diverse East Village neighborhood that has so long been my home. I never made the steps to buy rental's insurance because I needed to raise my kids. Please help me in my attempt to rebuild my life in the community where my children were born and attend school. This community is everything to them and to me. We walk down 2nd Avenue, St. Mark's Place, to Tompkins Square Park and we always see friends and neighbors waving hello.

Any donation - even the smallest bit - could help me rebuild this entire world for my kids who - in one fell swoop - went to school one day and came home to rubble. We have lost clothes, family heirlooms, nearly every photograph we own, computers and loved toys,  the piano I grew up playing in the 60's, one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture from the 40's, artwork dating back before I was born, my grandmother's fine china and silver, pottery handmade by my elderly mother, my late-father's guitar. Everything that felt so familiar and now feels so very significant.

We have lost everything but each other, our friends, and our family. Please share this with people you know, people you don't, and remember that we are still holding onto the goodness I try to always instill in my kids. That's what makes me hopeful.


Below is a photo of all that remains of the space that was once our home. Only with the generosity of you all can we possibly rebuild.

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  • Mark Hernandez 
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Organizer and beneficiary

Diane McLean 
Organizer
New York, NY
Diane McLean 
Beneficiary