Red Cross helps family after fire

FORT PLAIN — he American Red Cross provided immediate emergency aid to Fort Plain residents after a fire that left them without a place to call home earlier this month. Mary Alice Molgard, Disaster Public Affairs Team Lead for the Red Cross Northeast Region, said two children and two adults received what is known as Direct Client Assistance, which is help that meets the immediate needs of those who have endured the type of loss that a fire leaves behind.

“Direct Client Assistance means the Red Cross provides funds for the client to use for what he or she needs. Usually, it’s to provide some type of housing or shelter for a few days, food, and to replace clothing lost in a fire or flood,” said Molgard.

Volunteers from the Northeastern New York Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to those impacted by fire on Route 80, by providing financial assistance for necessities such as shelter and food. They also provided clothing to the two adults and two children, who they stated are ages 11 and 14. Volunteers offered health services and emotional support, something the Red Cross staff and volunteers will continue to provide as those affected by the fire navigate the road to recovery.

“These clients also received assistance with health services. Generally, that means help in replacing lost prescriptions, glasses, and medical devices. We also can provide mental health assistance. We have counselors who provide emotional support to help deal with these often very traumatic events. They can meet personally, or through phone contact,” said Molgard.

Molgard said they provide financial assistance through a couple of different methods. Being timely, Molgard explains, is always a priority so they look at a few ways before deciding on what will be the most efficient, depending on their clients unique situation and immediate needs.

“We can issue what is essentially a debit card, or we can arrange for a funds transfer to an existing bank account. COVID restrictions had forced us to do more of the remote funds-transfers, but now that restrictions are easing, we’re back to more face-to-face interaction. We also coordinate with county Social Services offices if there is longer-term assistance needed for housing,” said Molgard.

The Red Cross has longed to come to the aid of those in need after a catastrophic event or crisis. There is often a misconception that they receive federal funding, but they do not receive any aid from the government at any level.

“The Red Cross receives no government money for its activities, neither state nor federal funds. The local operation here in Eastern New York is funded by donations from the public,” said Molgard.

The American Red Cross is always accepting and in need of donations. They can be reached online at or by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS. The Northeastern New York Chapter of the American Red Cross serves a large portion of New York state, including the communities of Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Hamilton, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie, Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties.