Family of Seven Recovers From House Fire With Help of Warren MATTS
*Tasha Clemons in front of the Warren MATTS (Macomb’s Answer To Temporary Shelter) sign
On April 29, 2022, Tasha Clemons and her fiancé, Darjay Travis, experienced a devastating fire that destroyed their home in Warren. The couple has five children: three older (a boy and two girls) and two toddlers (a boy and a girl).
“The fire started upstairs in the girl’s bedroom. It was a shock because it just happened suddenly.” Clemons said.
“We lost pretty much everything: beds, furniture, everything. It was really traumatic for the kids; we’d never been through anything like that.”
Thankfully help was soon on the way. First the Red Cross paid for a week’s hotel stay, then Clemons’ father allowed the family to stay with him. This proved difficult, however, because the two-bedroom home could barely fit the family of seven. Then they heard about The Salvation Army Warren MATTS through Macomb Community Action. They moved into a dormitory and found ample space and help. The shelter hosts individuals, families and single parents for up to 90 days while helping them plan their next move.
* Warren MATTS building
The family also received help through Pathway of Hope, a program designed to help struggling families get back on their feet. The program’s purpose is to break the cycle of crisis and vulnerability that leads to poverty by assisting with unemployment, unstable housing and lack of education and make a difference that will affect generations.
“We received lots of help, the kids adjusted well to it.” Clemons said. “The program is a good program, it helped us out a lot.”
Warren MATTS has dormitories for men and women, and the staff try to keep families together as much as possible. While there, Clemons and Travis worked hard to find housing with the help of their case worker, Kate Smith. “Kate helped out a lot, printing out listings and stuff, I checked up on those and went to open houses. We put in applications for a couple places.” Clemons said.
Due to their lack of a house payment, they were able to save up money to buy a car, which helped them in their search. Travis worked during the day, and Clemons was able to take a job as well because their children were taken care of during the day. The two oldest even attended sports camp at The Salvation Army’s Echo Grove Camp & Retreat Center in Leonard, Michigan.
At long last the family found a new house 86 days in (three days before the 90-day deadline). The house is not only in the same neighborhood as their son’s middle school but is bigger than their old one.
The Salvation Army put in a referral for a furniture bank to help the family buy new furniture, and they were given free beds for their children through the Pathway of Hope program. An agency in Macomb also paid for their security deposit and first three months of rent.
Though it was a difficult few months for Clemons and Travis, with the help of generous individuals, Warren MATTS, and the Pathway of Hope program, they were able to get back on their feet and into an even better situation than before the fire.
“I’m just happy to be in a house again. And the kids are happy. I couldn’t ask for more!” Clemons said.
After recovering from their ordeal, the family continues to be involved in Salvation Army activities, for example their older children come to youth group every Tuesday evening.
Warren MATTS continues to help families in need and is usually full of people like Clemons and Travis. Currently there are seven families, and most stay the full 90 days. More info about Warren MATTS can be found here. You can also donate to The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit, or volunteer.