Making Your Mark: Rallying for residents displaced from their homes

Making Your Mark: Community kindness for displaced residents

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WVEC) -- Their nightmare began when Hurricane Matthew blew into town.

More than 200 families displaced from their homes at the Waypoint at Lynnhaven Apartments in Virginia Beach because of asbestos thanks to flooding from Hurricane Matthew.

It's been a nightmare for people like Johvanny  Torres, who aren't even allowed to go back into their home to collect their belongings or precious, family mementos.

"My dad passed away when I was 13," Johvanny said. "And there are things that he left for me that my mom had and we won't get those things back, they're priceless. There are things you can't buy. We have a mother who lost their son two years ago and she can't get the photos of them together as a family. We have widows that can't get any of these photos because they claim that it's asbestos and it's dangerous."

While this time has been excruciating for many families, Johvanny is feeling a lot of love from the Hampton Roads community. People and groups are donating a truck load of food, clothes, and toys for kids.

It's enough to make a grown man cry.

"To see so many people do selfless things that I just never expect to even happen, because I didn't know what tomorrow had for us," Johvanny said. "Losing everything and seeing so many families lose all of what they have... it leaves me speechless to know how many kind-hearted people that were willing to just step up and just deliver this for us."

One of those people is Jammie Abbott. She's a Hampton Roads resident who fights for the homeless. Jammie created and runs her own non-profit, called HotelKids.org. She pays for hotel rooms for homeless children and families to get them off the streets. She also distributes donated clothes. And she's in the know with who to call for help when a homeless person is in dire need. 

"She's been my rock through this whole process," Johvanny said. 

Jammie has volunteered to use her resources to help Johvanny and other Waypoint at Lynnhaven residents.

"These are families that have their lives intact," Jammie said. "They had everything. They were paying their rent. They were doing everything you're supposed to, to get the American dream and this is how fast homelessness can happen. With no fault of their own all of these families have been thrown into homelessness."

Jammie is helping to organize the residents so they can be a united force in helping each other. They've mobilized into a tight-knit community committee, in which residents are tasked with handling any needs they have and problems they now face.

"We have somebody who is dealing with transportation," she said. "We have somebody who is dealing with if there are complaints. We have somebody who's dealing with the needs kids are having."

That's helped them seek assistance from the community at-large. And it's been a generous community.

People have donated bags of clothes, shoes and food that have packed a truck donated by Uncle Bob's Storage. Go Toys and Games donated teddy bears for children impacted. They've also received help from "Blankets for Homeless" and -- again -- from many individuals who saw their plight on the news and decided to act.

They say they really need baby items, since babies have been born to several families since this whole ordeal began. Donations can be made at hotelkids.org.

And now, they're hoping some heavy hitters will help them, as well.

"We contacted all of the political campaigns," Jammie said. "We contacted Trump's. We contacted HIllary and we let them know how bad things are here, and everything that we're doing to try to help."


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