As family mourns those lost in Highlandtown house fire, a community rallies to help

Stack of newspapers with Mark Parker campaign Logo and text "Media Coverage"

[Excerpted from The Baltimore Banner]

Clara Longo de Freitas 3/2/2024 11:33 a.m. EST

Mark Parker and Community Members in Highlandtown listening to victims of the fire
(📸 Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Mark Parker, a pastor at Breath of God Church, and Lucia Islas, a community organizer, walked up the street that same morning. A mother from Honduras sat crying on the sidewalk, Islas said, worried about what to do for her daughter’s upcoming fourth birthday. She would help her figure it out, Islas promised the woman.

Another man, who was on the second floor of one of the rowhomes, told her he had to jump from the stairs, knowing that, if he didn’t, he would die in the fire. He tried to take his phone with him, he told Islas, but it exploded. Parker worked to get cellphones.

And from there came the text thread that included Catalina Rodriguez-Lima, the director of the mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Lydia Walther-Rodriguez from CASA and Susana Barrios, a community organizer. Rodriguez-Lima was going to make sure residents were aware of resources such as rental assistance. Walther-Rodriguez was going to look for housing. Barrios was going to contact the Embassy of Guatemala.

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