Chef, church cook up plan to help mom who lost home in fire


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A family in Indianapolis has spent half of a year living on the second floor of their church, converting an unused room into a makeshift apartment.

They lost everything just a few months ago in a fire, but now, they’re getting help from the community as they try to rebuild. 

A fire on a late October night melted away what Rita Velazquez and her two children called home. They don’t have insurance. Her church, Iglesia Ebenezer, has given them a room that they turned into a kitchen and a bedroom. They built a wall to separate the two rooms and are working to repair a bathroom for them. 

“At the church we feel like a family and Rita is a warrior for us,” said Alexandra Garcia, a member of the church.

They know they’re lucky for their church. But that doesn’t make it easy. Velazquez sleeps on the floor every night so her children can have the single bed. 

Velazquez said she misses her home. So does her 12-year-old daughter, Yulian De Paz.

“That’s truly one of my wishes to have my own house,” she said, as she fought back tears. 

Velazquez starts work at 5 a.m. with two different jobs in the restaurant industry. She’s working with her church to raise the nearly $200,000 she needs to rebuild her home. The church created a GoFundMe page

But more help is on the way. Velazquez works for Neal Brown at Ukiyo4907 N. College Ave. 

“These people are part of our family. Our industry family,” said Brown.

He has organized a fundraiser for Sunday where chefs from around Indianapolis will create a meal for customers. It is a seven-course meal and costs $150. All the proceeds go to the family.

The event sold out.

They’ve already raised $6,000 for the family and more could be raised in a silent auction on Sunday. 

“Rita is an incredible person. Her children are amazing children,” he said.

Velazquez said she is touched by all the support she has received from the community, as they work to hold her family up when her house cannot. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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