The Dunkley’s were about to receive the exciting news at their doctor’s on January 3rd, whether Yajaira, or “Laly” as she likes to be called, was carrying a baby girl or boy.
In what was supposed to be a joyful time of their lives instantly became devastation when Howard received a phone call from his neighbor telling him his home was on fire.
Laly, Howard and their two daughters Aliya and Emily raced to their home; the same home that they had owned and loved for 19 years. This would be the home that their new baby was soon going to be raised in as well.
They were met outside by firefighters who wouldn’t let them in. Laly and her older daughter Aliya stood there, crying, while watching the scene in front of them. Just hours earlier, their beautiful home had been fine and now, the inside was smoldering.
The fire department blamed their Christmas tree, but Laly had a feeling it was something else. Two months earlier she smelled a strange “electrical smell” around her home that wouldn’t go away. Both her and her husband contacted the North Lauderdale Fire Department who came out, thoroughly checked the home and told them nothing was wrong. Feeling assured, she thought nothing about it again until that evening.
The fire was so devastating that they could not move back in. They couldn’t even salvage their bedding or clothing. No matter how hard Laly tried, she could not get the soot smell off the clothing or toys. As they still had to continue to make their mortgage payments, they were left with no other options but to move into a spare bedroom with Howard’s brother and his family.
The Dunkley’s would receive even more bad news: The small insurance amount they were entitled to would only cover the outside of their home. They had no content insurance and nothing inside the walls would be replaced.
“Christmas trees are bad,” said six-year-old Aliya Dunkley. “They took away everything in our home.”
Principal Jackson Self, Aliya’s principal at North Broward Academy, was concerned about the Dunkley’s situation. He spoke to Michael Pampillonia, Assistant Branch Manager of PNC Bank of Tamarac who routinely visited the school and taught the students about banking. Pampillonia mentioned his community involvement with the Tamarac Kiwanis and told him this is the type of community work that the Kiwanis do.
Pampillonia took it to the President of the Tamarac Kiwanis, Barry Harris, and asked if the Kiwanis could help the Dunkley’s.
“When Michael asked if it was something that we would be interested in doing, I said yes,” said Harris.
The first thing Harris did was arrange a meeting with the family in Principal Self’s office at North Broward Academy. Howard had to be at work that day so his mother sat in on the meeting.
Harris found out more about the family. Howard and Laly grew up in this area and were preparing to welcome the birth of their third child who would soon join her two big sisters. Laly attended Silver Lakes and West Pine Middle School graduating from Coconut Creek High School. After High School, she graduated from cosmetology school. Howard attended Lauderhill Middle School, graduated from Boyd Anderson High School and currently works as a Technician at Coral Springs Auto Mall.
After meeting and speaking with them, it really struck a nerve with Harris:
“Here was a family that really needed our help. This family had lost almost everything they had worked so hard for. After that, I was even more determined to make this a divisional project with the Tamarac Kiwanis at the helm.”
The Tamarac Kiwanis are planning upcoming events to raise funds and help this local family. If you cannot make any of the events, please consider a donation to the family. They need appliances, furniture, flooring, kitchen items, or money to help them move back in their home.
The goal is for them to move back into the their home by May 29th in time for the birth of their new baby.
You can make donations to:Kiwanis Club of Tamarac put in the memo area – Dunkley Family PNC Bank 6899 N. University Drive Tamarac FL 33321