U.P mayor reaches out to help family displaced by fire

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University Place Mayor Javier Figueroa raised funds for helping 13-year-old Girl Scouts Kendra and Kenya Massey after their home burned down. Photo courtesy of Javier Figueroa

According to news reports, Kenneth Lewis Massey, 47, pleaded “not guilty” when charged with first-degree arson, domestic violence related, for setting fire to a Tacoma home on Sunday, July 23. The home burned with his wife and children still inside but they all made their last minute escape. Meanwhile, his wife, Edna Massey, is feeling financially scorched by the incident. Her children are all scattered, staying in different homes, and she just wants help getting back on her feet.

Ever since that fateful night, both she and her oldest daughter, 16, have been staying at the YWCA shelter for support. Meanwhile, her four younger children, two boys age 14 but of different birthdays and twin 13-year-old daughters, have all been dispersed into separate homes provided by local church volunteers.

Edna Massey said she only makes $12.04 an hour working at Walmart on Union Street and cannot possibly afford to pay rent from those meager wages. “I really, REALLY, really need help paying rent for a few months,” Massey said.

To that end, the family now has a GoFundMe account, with a photo that features mom and three daughters, called “Help Edna and the Kids” at gofundme.com/help-Edna-the-kids. That site features the goal, which is to raise $20,000 for the family. What’s more, Sound Outreach, 1106 M.L.K. Jr. Way, gave Massey keys to a home and paid for her first month’s rent but without any furniture or bedding the family is still sleeping apart.

According to the 13-year-olds’ Regional Girl Scouts Membership Recruiter, Alecia Cunningham, the community has started to rally behind the family to offer support. University Place Mayor Javier Figueroa decided to help out the twin Girl Scouts, Kendra and Kenya Massey. After raising some funds, the mayor met with both girls, bought them breakfast and then took them to the mall where he paid nearly $2,000 for them to pick out whatever clothes they needed: shoes, jeans, undergarments, swimsuits and backpacks. Figueroa then treated the twins to lunch and, Cunningham said, the girls left for their temporary homes with big smiles.

The back story

According to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, Tacoma police and firefighters responded to calls about a burning home at 4014 S. Warner St. and after Massey’s oldest son and another witness saw Mr. Massey running away from the blaze, police arrested him. That’s when they noticed that his wet clothes reeked of accelerants. In court, as Massey wore an orange PC Jail uniform, he pleaded not guilty. His bail was set at $200,000.

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