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Oakland Park Firefighters Bring Christmas To Family That Lost Everything

On November 30th, 2020 Kelli and Stephen Korman and their two daughters lives were changed forever when the apartment they were moving into caught fire. Just 25 days before the biggest holiday in the world they lost everything and did not know what to do or how they were going to bring Christmas to their two little girls, 5 and 7. While the loss was great the love that came from Oakland Park Fire Rescue was even greater.
All of the family’s belongings were completely destroyed by the fire.
Battalion Chief Monica Maldonado helped Kelli after the fire and was also pivotal in a community relief effort. True to the motto on the side of the fire truck the Oakland Park Fire Rescue “Our Family Helping Your Family”. The coordinated effort to bring Christmas was led by the Firefighters but also included lots of other local heroes. 
Oakland Park Fire Rescue is true to their motto: “Our Family Helping Your Family”.

A Community Comes Together

In addition to Oakland Park Fire Rescue, Oakland Park Kiwanis, Oakland Park BSO, Margate and Coconut Creek Fire Department, and Home Depot were part of the effort. Bruce Garrison, Oakland Park’s Volunteer Services Manager, braved the heat in a Santa suit and showed up with his elf, Cristina Curry, Oakland Park’s Special Events Coordinator. All together they brought the spirit of Christmas to the Korman family. 

Grateful and Thankful

The girls were especially thrilled to see Santa and super excited to be getting their first bikes. The family also received a TV, toys, stuffed animals and other gifts. Overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love, Kelli, who suffers from some health issues, conveyed her gratitude to everyone for making this an unforgettable Christmas for her family.
“I am absolutely amazed and I can’t tell you how grateful and thankful I am and my family is thankful and grateful. We have been through the hardest experience and this just lightens things up… and it kind of makes it feel more like the holidays, especially since we are in a different place (rather) than a place called home”.
Korman and her daughters hug Santa (Bruce Garrison). Garrison reminded the girls that there will always be Christmas.

A Word From and About Our Heroes

Our Heroes!

Our Heroes!

Oakland Park’s newest and first female Battalion Chief Monica Maldonado was asked what it meant to put it all together, but rather than take the credit first hand, she pointed to her peers and said:

“This was actually all these people standing behind me…When we first were there for the fire we saw the loss and everything that was happening and these guys came together and asked me to organize…this really shows what Firefighters do in the community especially during the holidays”.

Oakland Park Fire Chief, Steve Krivjanik echoed the sentiment of Maldonado’s statement by reminding us that this sort of tragedy happens every day and that it is important to always help others. 

“What an amazing event of our community coming together to help someone who has suffered a tragedy… I hope it continues that more families who suffer these, and it happens every day, it just happens to be Christmas time where we can do something from the heart, but this happens every day and we have to realize that people need help (every day) especially in these bad times…”.

Oakland Park Mayor, Jane Bolin, was there to assure the family that they were an important part of our community and that the City was there to help them begin anew. Mayor Bolin shared her thoughts on the occasion :

“So I really want to thank the Benevolent Association of our Firefighters, who really took the time to look at a loss and determine that there was really a need and they didn’t just do this alone, they brought the community together, they brought in Kiwanis, another Fire Department (Coconut Creek & Margate), BSO, the City to all come together and support in this time of need and it is just beautiful and a testament not just to the season but who were as Americans and who we are as the City of Oakland Park. I really am just very thankful and I hope that everyone can share this kind of spirit as we move forward”. 

There is nothing anyone can do to undo the tragedy that changed the Korman’s lives forever. However, the Oakland Park community, starting with the Oakland Park Fire Rescue, proved that as a community we can make things better. This is just one example of how they live their motto of “Our Family Helping Your Family” every single day. 

How You Can Help: GoFundMe For the Family

If you want to help the family please consider contributing to their GoFundMe account set up by Oakland Park Fire Rescue:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/9dqvr-family-loses-everything-in-house-fire. For transparency, all items purchased with the money will be photographed and posted.

For other ways you can help, contact Ryan Snyder at ryan.snyder@oaklandparkfl.gov

Be a part of Oakland Park online!


*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

Desiree Avila

EDITOR, PUBLISHER, WRITER, PHOTOGRAPHER, REALTOR®

Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for over 33 years. In addition to publishing LivingInOaklandPark.com, Désirée has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad. Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. She is currently a licensed Florida Realtor® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism.

Désirée consistently professionally develops herself and has earned several different professional designations and certifications in real estate including the PSA, e-Pro, AHWD, SRS, ABR, and SFR. She was also awarded the C2EX, Commitment to Excellence award by the National Association for Realtors (NAR). This award is given to Realtors® that distinguish themselves for their commitment to excellence in the real estate industry.

She is esteemed by her real estate colleagues and has consistently received 5 star reviews from her clients. Her philosophy about real estate is that being a Realtor® is a way of teaching and helping people, and in the process a real estate transaction may occur, that is to say her foremost priority is and has always been about helping others.

She is dedicated to her hometown of Oakland Park and works consistently on building and fostering a strong community. She is passionate about photography and loves to read books about history ; the more detail the better! In addition to English, Désirée is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.

Check out her real estate websites:
DesireeAvila.com
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