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Current Page: Living | Monday, September 07, 2015
New York's 'Angels of Hope' Help Fire Victims Put Their Lives Back Together on the Long Road to Restoration

New York's 'Angels of Hope' Help Fire Victims Put Their Lives Back Together on the Long Road to Restoration

New York City Fire Department firefighters walk on 2nd Avenue towards the site of where a residential apartment was engulfed in flames in New York City, March 26, 2015. The residential apartment building collapsed and was engulfed in flames on Thursday in New York City's East Village neighborhood, critically injuring at least one person, authorities said. | (Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar)
Flames rise from a building fire in the East Village neighborhood of New York City on March 26, 2015. A residential apartment building collapsed and was engulfed in flames on Thursday in New York City's East Village neighborhood, critically injuring at least one person, authorities said. | (Photo: Reuters/Ben Hider)
New York City Fire Department firefighters and police stand by as firefighters fight a fire at a residential apartment building in New York City March 26, 2015. The residential apartment building collapsed and was engulfed in flames on Thursday in New York City's East Village neighborhood, critically injuring at least one person, authorities said. | (Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar)
New York City Fire Department firefighters and emergency personnel respond at the site of a residential apartment building which had collapsed and was engulfed in flames in New York City's East Village neighborhood March 26, 2015. An apparent gas explosion caused two residential apartment buildings to collapse and burst into flames, and two others to catch fire, injuring 12 people on Thursday in New York City's East Village neighborhood, authorities said. | (Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)
New York City Fire Department firefighters battle fire at the site of a residential apartment building collapse and fire in New York City's East Village neighborhood, March 26, 2015. An apparent gas explosion caused two apartment buildings to collapse and burst into flames, and two others to catch fire, injuring at least 12 people on Thursday in New York City's East Village neighborhood, authorities said. | (Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)
Crews remove debris at the site of a multi-building collapse on 2nd Avenue in New York, March 30, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Kelly)

NEW YORK — Each year, thousands of Americans are left with nothing after a fire ravages their homes, and many victims are bewildered when it comes to the process of putting their lives back together.

From 2011 to 2013, residential building fires made up 58 percent of the total dollar loss from all fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Philip Rao, a resident of Staten Island, New York, whose co-op was burned down in 2014, experienced such loss first-hand. Fortunately, however, he was able to recover many of his possessions through insurance.

Instead of simply chalking his experience up to good preparation, Rao, a committed Christian and New York City chaplain, saw an opportunity to serve the Lord by not only raising awareness about fire insurance, but also by helping New Yorkers who just lost everything through his innovative new ministry, SI Angels of Hope.

Angels of Hope responds to fires in the city by using the fire tracking service New York City Fire Wire, and Rao and his crew minister to the families by providing them with care packages that include toiletries, clothing, and information on who they need to call after the fire.

"The hope for me is to be able to allow people to know that even though you go through a crisis, God is always there for us. But there's a lot of people who don't know God," said Rao to The Christian Post. "So for me, to be able to be with them at that time of crisis [is the mission]."

According to Ready, a national public service advertising campaign to educate Americans about emergency preparedness, Americans experience about $7.3 billion in annual property loss due to fires. Rao explained that the process of rebuilding after a fire can take years, even for those who have insurance, and Angels of Hope will provide victims with the necessary information on how to best handle their situation.

They also aim to address the emotional needs of fire victims.

"For us, with our boy Zachery, he's 5-years-old, and I'm not exaggerating. He wants to go home every day," he said. "So for families that have children, it's a big experience for them to go through. And [kids] don't understand."

As a Christian ministry, Angels of Hope tries to live out the Gospel by loving its neighbors who have suffered through a fire, and aside from physical needs, the group offers prayer and encouragement to these families.

Contact: Vincent.funaro@christianpost.com; follow me on Twitter @vinfunaro

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