STOW -- Because of the heroic efforts of a neighbor, Jammie Efford survived a devastating fire at her former Twinsburg apartment in February.
Now, thanks to the selfless efforts of one Stow community group, Efford is getting a monetary boost to "help her get back on her feet."
Helping Our Neighbors in Stow, where Efford's recently opened dog-grooming business is located, heard about her plight and gave Efford a check for $500 to "help her get back on her feet," said John Pribonic, a Stow Councilor and a founding member of Helping Our Neighbors.
"The only criteria we have are that you live [or work] in Stow or Munroe Falls, and that you have a need," Pribonic said during a March 8 check presentation at Effords' Hudson Drive business, Pets 'R' Us.
Efford said she was grateful for the support, adding that she is still staying either at her business or with family as she searches for a new place to live. Efford opened Pets 'R' Us Feb. 17, only days after the fire.
Efford escaped uninjured from the fire at Whitewood Apartments off Ravenna Road in Twinsburg Feb. 11, after neighbor Wade Wooten, who saw smoke coming from the apartment, went in through her front door and woke her up. The two escaped off the back balcony as it collapsed. Wooten was transported to a local hospital for smoke inhalation and later released.
The apartment was completely destroyed, and Efford lost everything, including her four beloved Yorkie dogs. There were no other injuries in the blaze.
"I lost everything," Efford said. "When I jumped off the balcony, I didn't even have shoes on. My sister, when she came over, had to lend me her shoes because my socks were soaked through."
Wooten's good deeds were not yet complete, as the U.S. Navy veteran returned his own Yorkie to Efford, a dog that Efford had given him years earlier when Chloe was a puppy.
"He said, 'You need her more than I do right now,'" Efford said.
Helping Our Neighbors formed about five years ago to assist Stow residents following devastating flooding.
"We had a lot of flooding," said Janet D'Antonio, another member. "I remember thinking 'this is really bad,' and I wanted to do something."
Pribonic said the money goes through the Stow Community Foundation and donations are tax-deductible.
D'Antonio said Helping Our Neighbors has occasional fundraisers, such as ice cream socials, to raise money for residents who find themselves in need.
For details on Helping Our Neighbors, call Pribonic at 330-842-9687.