Nonprofit starts two relief funds for fire victims

Posted: June 22, 2007

Funds are pouring in for families displaced by Wednesday's seven-alarm fire in Kensington thanks to an Internet campaign spearheaded by a nonprofit whose community center at 3200 Potter St. was destroyed in the blaze.

The Simple Way, a Christian grassroots organization that has been in the Kensington community for 10 years, has raised more than $4,770 for the displaced families through its Web site, said Nora Cohen, a volunteer for the group.

Shane Claiborne, a founding member of The Simple Way, said in a telephone interview that "literally hundreds of people locally, around the country, and even folks around the globe have sent donations, which is really exciting."

Claiborne, who lived in the community center, lost all of his belongings in the fire.

Two separate funds have been set up: one for the displaced families and the other for rebuilding the center, Claiborne said.

Cohen said that no monetary goal has been set "because we don't know yet which houses and cars were insured and which weren't."

The Simple Way ran a variety of programs, including after-school literacy and art programs for middle-school children in the area.

Seven houses were destroyed Wednesday in the fire that originated in an abandoned warehouse at 3222-58 H St. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and is not expected to be determined until Monday at the earliest, according to the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Contact staff writer Katie Stuhldreher at 215-854-2601 or

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