AUSTIN (KXAN) — When the power went out at the Helping Hand Home for Children, a facility that cares for abused children, the temperature started to drop inside the building.
“It got as cold as 33,” said Chris Janawicz, who is the director of residential services.
Janawicz walked eight miles in the snow to get to and from work. He was just one of the many staff members who made the journey to work to make sure the kids were safe.
“Our staff braved the treacherous road conditions,” Janawicz said. “They slept here in a freezing cold building in offices on floors.”
Michael Fuentes, food service manager for the home, used a gas stove to make sure the kids were fed.
“Every child should get a good meal every day,” Fuentes said. He slept in his car two nights just so he could warm up.
Janawicz says the kids were taken to the University Baptist Church where there was power, but staff members like Fuentes remained at the home to offer support and make sure the kids were fed.
“Even if I had to stay here a whole month I would do it,” Fuentes said. “What motivated me was the children.”
The kids stayed at the church four nights until power came back on.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and that concept is alive and well,” Janawicz said.
Helping Hand Home sustained damage to several therapy rooms, offices and the therapeutic sensory gym due to broken pipes and roof leaks. If you would like to help, the home’s website has a donation link that will go toward expenses incurred from the winter storm.