In just minutes on a Saturday afternoon in late January, Little Angels Nursery School, a fixture in the Windsor Hills neighborhood where generations of children have learned how to paint and count, went up in flames. The roof on the east side of the school collapsed and classrooms were ablaze. Fortunately, in less than one hour a team of 75 firefighters put out the fire, which had started in the attic.
“We thank God that no one was hurt,” said Angela Massengale, the owner and director of the preschool. “My first reaction was disbelief”.
And then the devastation sank in. Massengale’s family has owned the pre-school for 46 years and rebuilding it seemed impossible.
Then the community stepped in. One local resident, Ben Kahle, suggested organizing a fundraiser to help the school. Community members Sovonto Green, Jeff Haber, Andre Gaines and Pernell Cox moved into action, and within days, the concerned residents had organized a donation drive in Monteith Park, a community park in the View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood.
Together they raised $4,000 worth of gift cards, cash and classroom supplies. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also helped out, by arranging permits for portable bungalow classrooms purchased from Los Angeles Unified School District for $1 each.
“It didn’t touch me personally, but it touched a lot of my neighbors,” said View Park resident Pernell Cox. “So neighbors helping neighbors is what it’s all about.”
In the meantime, the children are taking classes in two smaller buildings on the property untouched by the fire. Massengale said she could not have moved forward without the help and support of the community. In fact, only three weeks later, she is set to meet with a contractor to begin anew.
“The community has come out and supported us on a daily basis,” she said. “The reality is we now have an opportunity for a fresh start.”
For more information about events in the View Park-Windsor Hills community, visit Viewpark.org