The Mahwah community is rallying to help an elderly couple that lost its home in a fire early Monday morning and the family members who have taken them in.
Henry and Pauline Vriesema were at home and awake Monday morning when the fire broke out in their Bogert Ranch Estate home. The couple escaped unharmed, but their three cats and all of their belongings perished in the fire.
After the fire, the couple, “came to stay with me, and they’re basically just going to move in here with us,” Joanna Hannon, the couple’s daughter, another Mahwah resident, said.
“When it first happened, obviously my mom was really upset, and I think my dad was just in shock,” Hannon said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “Now, really it’s just a matter of adjusting and getting into new routines.”
Hannon said they family is, “really so appreciative,” of all of the offers of help and donations that they have received from friends, neighbors, and other members of the Mahwah community.
The Ramapo Reformed Church has set up a collection to help the couple at its church office on Island Road.
According to the couple’s granddaughter, Shelby Hannon, the family is asking for gift card donations to stores like Walmart, Kohl’s and Sears, and American Express or Visa gift cards.
“This will allow [us] to take [our grandparents] out to pick out their own clothes and food as they begin to settle in to this very new normal.”
The Vriesemas have a long history in Mahwah. They’ve lived in town for about 20 years, and their kids and grandkids all live in Mahwah and Ramsey. Joanna Hannon said her entire family has “always been very active,” in the community.
“With these, things, you’ve got to look at the bright side,” she said of the fire. “They escaped without injury. They are here, up, and around, and really, I think it will be nice for them to move in with us.”
The Ramapo Reformed Church office is open weekdays from 9:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Get more information about gift card drop-off procedures by calling 201-529-3075.