St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School supports family impacted by house fire
By Victoria Rabuse
Only a few weeks into the 2018-2019 school year, Brenda and Patrick Green, along with their three children who attend St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School (SEAS), found themselves watching their Hastings-area home burn in the early morning hours.
“As we sat there — safe, together — I remember the two older kids asking me if they still had to go to school the next day,” Brenda recalled. “It was 4:00 in the morning. I posted about what had happened on Facebook because there wasn’t really anything else to do. Nobody else was awake yet.”
Although their children — second grader Oscar, fourth grader Sam and sixth grader Izzy — did not attend school the next day, word quickly spread to their Catholic school community.
“Someone in the front office shared Brenda’s post with us,” SEAS Principal Tim Sullivan said. “By 11:00 that morning, we sent a notice out saying that a SEAS family escaped a fire, but their house was a total loss.”
In only a few hours, donations began to roll in. “Our kids literally only had the pajamas they were wearing when they left the house,” Brenda said. SEAS families contributed gift cards for food and gas, school uniforms, tuition payments, clothes, backpacks, school books, cars, and even a house where the Green family could stay.
“You name it, it was offered,” Brenda remembered.
When the Green children returned to school, Sullivan ensured they had a counselor on hand to provide support and teachers were prepped on how to best comfort children who had encountered a traumatic experience. Most importantly, the caring staff and students helped them get back into a routine.
“Those kids were stronger than a lot of adults would have been in that situation,” Sullivan said. “We teach the Catholic faith every day — doing unto others what is done unto you. The SEAS community had the opportunity to actually do it.”
Brenda agreed, noting how beyond the gifts of money and necessities, it was emotional to know that people were praying for them over dinner or before bed, and saying rosaries for their family.
For now, the Greens are living with Brenda’s parents in Inver Grove Heights, but they are anticipating their building permit to be approved soon. Once they have the green light, they’ll rebuild their house exactly as it was before on the same lot.
“Except this time,” Izzy chimed in, “I want my room to be teal.”