Simpson community reaches out to Swain family

by Steffi Lee

This past month has brought the Simpson community together to support the Swain family after they lost everything in a house fire a little over a month ago.

On the morning of Dec. 20, sophomore Charles Swain received a phone call from his mother, Filishia, informing him of the news. A little over a month later and the strength of the Swain family has not wavered.

“They’re hanging in there,” Charles said.

An unwavering strength, however, does not mean the family is without struggle. Charles explained how his younger sister recently broke down.

“It kind of really hit her [last week],” Charles said. “None of [the other members cried], since they were there when it happened. They just kind of accepted it.”

From the Simpson community, Chaplain Fritz Wehrenberg and the Religious Life Community interns started collecting for a monetary gift for the family. Wehrenberg also sent out an email to everyone at Simpson, inviting them to make a contribution to the gift they were preparing for the Swain family.

Filishia said she is extremely appreciative for all the efforts Simpson has put into making her family return to their feet. Simpson College President John Byrd and Tracie Pavon, assistant vice president for enrolment & financial assistance, were two of the people Filishia mentioned that have reached out to her.

Wehrenberg stated that having been a parish for around 24 years, collecting a monetary gift for the Swain family was just a pastoral instinct for him. He also believes it invites Simpson’s campus to participate in community support.

“What does it mean to be a community?” Wehrenberg said. “It invites us to think about who we are.”

The Swain family is currently still staying at the Crossland Extended Stay motel, but is looking to rent a house.

“A goal of my mom’s is to rent a house anyways,” Charles said.

She can finally use this opportunity to make her dream come true.

Filishia is hoping to lease a house by this time of next year. Right now, people are currently assisting her with finding a place, but some aspects are challenging.

“I’m dealing with people who are trying to help me find a place,” Filishia said. “It’s not too successful because I want to stay in the same school district as my daughter, because she’ll be a senior next year. She’s been through enough. I don’t want to move her out of the school district.”

The fact that Charles attends school out-of-state can sometimes be hard for Filishia.

“I really didn’t want him to leave,” Filishia said.

Throughout these obstacles, the Swains have had continuous support from all directions.

“When a stranger reaches out to you, it means more, almost, than someone you know,” Filishia said. “It lets you know that there is some good in the world.”