Skip to comments.Faith keeps Mom, 10 kids hopeful (Where's the daddy? A national disgrace!)
Posted on 03/16/2006 5:36:30 AM PST by FerdieMurphy
A toppled candle destroyed the home and belongings of an out-of-work nurse and her 10 children
During the late-afternoon confusion, a candle flame grew Monday into a potentially deadly blaze in the home where Kerren Laitaille had been raising her 10 children.
In a matter of minutes, the fire destroyed family pictures, most of their clothes, beds, just about everything they owned. Everything, that is, except their faith.
Its shown me Im blessed with my kids and shown me people do care and are there for you, Laitaille said Wednesday morning in her all-too-temporary home: a room at Hawthorn Suites in North Naples.
After the fire, the Collier County Red Cross set her up in the plush hotel room for three days, and the hotel offered an additional day at its own expense. That gave Laitaille, a 34-year-old out-of-work nurse and single mother, until 11 a.m. Friday to find a new place.
She doesnt know what she will do when check-out time arrives. Her old home, which she rented, is no longer inhabitable.
In the meantime, her children, who range in age from 5 months to 15 years, have been watching television and playing video games to pass the time. Those who are old enough to go to school cant because they dont have a change of clothes.
For her part, Laitaille has been living in a controlled state of anxiety. Reading the Bible, she said, has kept doubt from consuming her the way the fire raged through her Golden Gate house.
Like most fires, this one started small.
Someone, perhaps one of the younger children, accidentally upended a candle in the master bathroom. The flame must have landed on or near a clothes basket because it spread quickly, said Victor Hill, a spokesman with the Golden Gate fire department.
A pungent odor filled the house at 5280 20th Place S.W. When Laitaille opened her bedroom door to see what was the matter, she encountered a wall of flames. She hollered for everyone to get out.
One of her sons, 13-year-old Derrick St. Claire, guided the others to safety, displaying remarkable calm.
First, I had to get the small ones out, the boy recalled Wednesday. Then, I had to get the girls out, and then the rest of the boys out. Then we had to dial 911. We had everyone out of the house and safe.
Golden Gate firefighters received the call at 5:55 p.m. and arrived at the house three minutes later, Hill said. Smoke poured from the eaves of the roof, making the house resemble a pot of boiling water with the lid still on top. The fire would go on to cause $50,000 in damage, Hill added.
Within 10 minutes, the fire was under control, but Laitailles life was spinning in the other direction.
A neighbor she had never spoken to before would turn out to be what Laitaille later called a guardian angel. The woman, a single mother of five children herself, tried to calm a disconsolate Laitaille and urged her not to re-enter the burning home.
Barbara Bekich, 38, stayed with the family for three hours in front of their ruined home as firefighters finished putting out the fire and concluded their investigation. She raided her childrens closets to give the family clothes and brought them diapers, Pop Tarts, water and Cheezits.
Really, Bekich said of Laitaille, she needed a hand held.
More help came when the Red Cross gave the family a $400 debit card to help replace clothes and other items lost to the fire. Laitaille said Wednesday she hadnt used the card yet because she thought it hadnt been activated.
But Jerry Welty, emergency services director for the Collier Red Cross, said it was ready to use when he handed it to her. Laitaille and her family were one of three families the Collier Red Cross has helped after fires during this week alone, Welty said.
Welty said he couldnt remember the agency ever dealing with such a large single family. The suite the charity rented for her has three king-size beds and a pull-out sofa.
Laitaille, a native of the Bahamas who moved to Miami at 7 years of age, decided from an early age she wanted a big family. That way, each child would have someone to rely on and be relied upon. She was once engaged to be married to the man who fathered eight of her children, but he moved back to the east coast instead.
Since her van broke down two months ago, she has been unable to work as a private nurse and has been living on child support. A family friend this week put up the money to rent a van for her to get around.
Welty said that since the Red Cross only offers short-term help, he hoped another charity would step in by the end of the week to help the family find housing.
Laitaille, who grew up in the Baptist church, has turned to her faith to ease her frayed emotions. On Tuesday night, she read the comforting Psalm 23 seven times.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, it reads. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. ...
Where did the money come from to buy the video games?
Laitaille, a native of the Bahamas who moved to Miami at 7 years of age, decided from an early age she wanted a big family.
Having a big family with a husband would be hard enough, but not marrying at least one of the fathers of these 10 children is unconscionable!
Also how can someone be a nurse in the USA and be unemployed? The demand for nurses is through the roof - it is so high that we import huge numbers of them to try and achieve appropriate staffing levels.
Stuff like this, you almost think it has to be "The Onion."
One wonders about having video games and not clothes to enable the children to go to school...but in any case, many churches have clothing "closets" where there are clothes free for the taking if one has need. Last I heard the one at my church was overflowing.
Maybe they're using "nurse" in a general sense, rather than meaning she's an R.N. She could have been a health aide of some kind; the fact that she couldn't pay for car repairs suggests she wasn't earning an R.N.'s pay.
She's blaming the van that no longer works when in fact it is she who no longer works. That's okay though, we'll keep her kids in video games.
Dang. She should have been reading that Bible instead of throwing down
Reading the Bible is a wonderful thing, but she should have had at least one other book available since she reached puberty. Any book. Any book at all, just as long as she held it tightly between her knees at all times.
Good point, but with 10 kids I don't think she's got time for work.
You and I may question this woman's judgment and we might be able to find places in her life where she could have made better decisions. Nevertheless, it is our responsibility - through the government, of course - to pay the cost of her bad decisions.
She's unemployed because, at least according to the article, her transportation broke down and she did not have the funds to repair. Not because she can't find employment.
(As an aside, is it "Lie-tie", or "Lay-tail"? The former sounds more French; the latter sounds more accurate.)
It's not our responsibility to make up for her bad decisions, it's simply what the government forces us to do at gunpoint.
"Nevertheless, it is our responsibility - through the government, of course - to pay the cost of her bad decisions."
Let's all take a moment to stand up from our desks, move away from the computer, and do the "Lucky Me!" dance.
"Nurse" probably refers to an LPN or nursing assistant..the kind of employee who often works at homes for the elderly. High demand but very low pay. Undoubtedly more lucrative to stay home and collect welfare while minding the young kids.
So her kids burned the house down while she was home, and it was her 13 yr old son who got everyone out. I wonder if she was even sober?
Carpool? Bus? Walk? Bum a ride off a co-worker? You mean she's completely stranded? That can only mean one thing: she lives on a farm 100 miles from the city, and the nearest neighbors are five miles away--and are KKK members to boot, which explains why she's afraid to ask any of them for a lift.
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