TAYLORS—An effort by one parish to help a family that lost much of what they owned in a house fire has grown to include a community.
For the past two weeks, members of Prince of Peace Church in Taylors have donated new and used clothing, cash and gift cards to Jim and Denise Conway and family.
On the morning of May 1, fire broke out in a bedroom of the one-story house on Rose Garden Street in Taylors. Heavy smoke was pouring from the structure by the time firefighters arrived, according to David Bailey, assistant fire chief of the Wade Hampton Fire Department.
“There was heavy damage to the house,” Bailey said.
No one was injured in the blaze, which Bailey said probably started from a faulty television in one of the bedrooms. Heather Conway’s room was in flames when her mother was awakened by the home’s smoke alarm and rushed to get her daughter out, Bailey said.
While Mr. Conway called the fire department, Mrs. Conway led her children Heather and Jason, and two of the family’s three pets, to safety. A cat named Piglet died in the fire, Mrs. Conway said.
The following Monday, parishioners at Prince of Peace organized a clothing drive for the family.
“Mr. Conway is a member of the Knights of Columbus and I heard about the fire through the Knights,” said Nancy Chandler, director of religious education at the church.
The Conways have a place to live thanks to a family that owns a vacant house, but Chandler said she knew they would need more. She sent e-mails to religious education and Prince of Peace School families asking for used clothing. What she received was new and used clothing, and gift cards to area stores.
It didn’t take long for word of the Conway’s needs to reach beyond the parish. Members of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville started helping, along with parents and students at the public schools where the Conway children attend.
“The response has been incredible,” Chandler said. “I didn’t expect this.”
Neither did the Conways.
“God’s abundance and His huge amount of mercy has spilled out on us,” Mrs. Conway said a week after the fire. “If a need pops up, it’s answered the next day.”
She said she felt God’s presence even in the chaos of trying to get her two children and the family pets safely out of her burning home.
“I have felt incredibly protected from the beginning,” she said.
Mrs. Conway said she normally prays the rosary every morning, but on the morning before the fire she changed the routine.
“For some reason, I decided to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I think that had an effect on things as well,” she said.
The Conways moved to the Greenville area five years ago from Connecticut. They have been members of Prince of Peace since then and plan to stay. Their daughter will be confirmed at the church in late May.
The family asks those who donate items or money to include a name and address so they can acknowledge their generosity. The Conways also are anxious to respond with more than thank-you notes.
“We can’t wait to get back in a stable environment so we can turn around and help someone else who may be in the same situation we were in,” Mrs. Conway said.
It’s a desire that she feels comes from God.
“I can see His hand in what’s happening in our lives,” she said.
Donations are being collected at Prince of Peace. Call (864) 268-4352 or visit www.princeofpeacetaylors.org.