INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A longtime employee of Kansas City, Missouri, Public Schools is thankful for the support her family has received since a house fire on Aug. 19, 2022.
Joyce Nguyen-Hernandez is the school district’s college access coordinator. Her high-school-aged daughter left a candle burning in the family’s home when she and her brother left to volunteer at the Ethnic Enrichment Festival that afternoon. Nguyen-Hernandez and her husband were not home at the time. The family believes the cat knocked the candle over, igniting a fire.
“This is a home that we brought our children into, we got married and this is where we started our family,” Nguyen-Hernandez explained.
The home is salvageable. Most of the fire damage is contained to one bedroom and the roof, but smoke damaged the majority of the home’s interior. No one and no pets were hurt in the fire.
In seven days, a GoFundMe page has collected more than $18,000 for the family. Nguyen-Hernandez said the outpouring of support from former students and coworkers, current district staff, and others has been amazing. Beyond financial donations, Nguyen-Hernandez said so many people have offered time, meals, rides, tools, prayers and more during such a hard time.
“It’s great just to know there are so many people from KCPS who are current staff, who are retired staff, who have gone out of their way to assist someone they haven’t interacted with in months and years,” Nguyen-Hernandez said. “It was incredible to see students and families I haven’t talked to in 20-plus years reach out and see how they could help.”
She is warning other families to check their insurance policies to make sure everything is covered. The family rents this home from a family member. Renters insurance will cover the contents of their home, but it’s been harder to figure out exactly what the property owners’ policy covers. Nguyen-Hernandez said her family plans to live in the home after months of renovations. They're staying with family in the meantime.
“We realize it was an accident and we communicate to our children that mistakes happen and we can rebuild," Nguyen-Hernandez said.