Mother of 10 sees kindness after tragedy

Joanna Harris says in the days since her home burned down, she's gotten a lot of kind support.
Joanna Harris says in the days since her home burned down, she's gotten a lot of kind support.

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Never before has Joanna Harris started over until now.

"As a mother of 10 children this is hard knowing I'm at rock bottom," said Harris.

Since our initial story last week Harris and her 10 children, ranging in age from 1 to 16, stayed at the Country Inn and Suites courtesy of the Red Cross after their Montgomery home caught on fire.

5 nights together as a family, 5 nights in three rooms to ponder the small kindnesses here and there from strangers who heard about Harris' misfortune.

Montgomery fire investigators say this was an accidental fire due to a faulty electrical outlet, and it was Ms. Harris who rescued her own children from the blaze.

Everybody got out without a scratch.

"I appreciate all the love and help they've shown me," said Harris.

The hotel for one says it couldn't imagine not lending a hand.

"It's our duty to help our fellow human beings in need," said Country Inn and Suites General Manager Joel Yost.

Yost says the hotel has a verbal agreement with the Red Cross to provide shelter in a situation like this. Country Inn and Suites helped more than 40 families in 2009, according to Yost.

And here at the WSFA 12 News studios on East Delano Avenue in south Montgomery we received at least a dozen calls from viewers wanting to help.

Harris is somewhat surprised by the gesture given the economy today.

"By me not knowing a lot of people, you know. I just didn't expect it," said Harris.

Harris says she works as a manager for a Montgomery fast-food restaurant and her 10 kids still need clothes to be able to go to school. The family lost just about everything in the blaze.

"I know people can't give a lot but I am grateful for what they can give," Harris said.

Joanna Harris admits she doesn't have a clue what the near future holds. Harris has some insurance on her home and still has her job, and along with those guarantees, a newfound perspective in the midst of ashes.

"I've learned to take one day at a time because you're not promised tomorrow," said Harris.

Joanna Harris' cell phone number is 334-221-5381 if you're interested in helping the family.

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