BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) — Mary Parker’s home was home to at least 23 people when it caught fire early Saturday morning. Many of those living in the home were children she had taken in and given a home when they had no where else to go. Now she's left wondering where they're all going to stay and how she's going to rebuild.
Everyone was asleep in Mary Parker's house on Brookstown Drive early Saturday morning when the smell of smoke woke her, just in time to get everyone living under her roof out of the house.
"God woke me up, so I can know that the house was on fire. Then I just woke up and got the children, 'y'all come on out, come out, come out,” Parker explained, “When they got outside something say, you got a tank in the house. And I said, 'run. y'all got to run.' by the time they ran over there it exploded."
Everyone in the neighborhood knows Mary Parker, her door was open for anyone who needed it, including over 20 neighborhood children and extended family members who were living with her at the time.
"Ms. Parker brings in all the kids in the neighborhood, not only kids but adults, people that don't have a place to live, people who are mentally challenged, she invites everybody in to her home," said metro city councilwoman Denise Marcelle.
For now Parker and the children she's caring for have nowhere to go but a hotel room provided to them by the Red Cross. But time is ticking and she wants more than anything to get things back to normal for the kids in her care.
"It’s not a good situation because, I don't know, the children have to go to school," Parker explained.
"Right now she needs a place to stay, and so that's a challenge. And we'll be working with her to make sure she has somewhere she can go with these kids,” Marcelle added, “Her biggest concern to me today was she needed school uniforms for the kids to get back to school. She didn't say she needed anything for Ms. Parker, she said she needed school uniforms for those kids to get back to school."
Through it all Parker's remained optimistic though and with the community stepping up she said it's only a matter of time before they're re-built and healed.
"They surprised me too, sooner or later, it's going to be alright."
There will be a benefit for the parker family on Friday evening at the Greater Mt. Canaan church.
Donations of blankets, clothes and furniture can be dropped off at Metro-Councilwoman Marcelle’s office at the Dr. Martin Luther King Center at 4000 Gus Young Ave. in Baton Rouge. An account for monetary donations has also been set up at Chase Bank by Pastor Levie Wright. The account number is 2919072350