At 61 years old, the last thing Tucson resident Lynda Phillip thought she’d be doing is starting over. After all, she had already accomplished so much – from raising two children as a single mother, to playing professional basketball on the first-ever women’s team, to finishing her career in the city court system.
She was looking forward to settling down and enjoying retirement.
Then came the tragic day of May 3.
While driving back to her northwest-area rental home, near Orange Grove and Camino de la Tierra, Lynda noticed a chaotic scene of police and fire trucks in the area. She thought it was likely a car accident. It wasn’t until she got closer that she realized that the emergency responders were at her residence.
Her home was burning to the ground.
“I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to say or what to do,” Lynda recalled, tearfully.
Prior to the arrival of emergency responders, neighbors frantically tried to counter the fire with water hoses. One passerby noticed Lynda’s cat inside the home, and shattered the sliding glass door to set it free. Nobody else was inside at the time of the fire.
“They really stepped up,” said Lynda. “They showed that the world does care about you.”
By the time the fire was subdued, the damage estimate was $80,000. Fire officials have been unable to determine what caused the blaze.
Lynda has since moved in with her mother. Despite the fact that her belongings – many of which had significant sentimental value – now lay in ashes, Lynda is fighting to remain optimistic about what the future holds.
Still, there are many restless nights and much worry about what lies ahead. That has only been exacerbated by the fact that she is unable to take FMLA time off from her job as a security guard, and may have to reapply for her job if she takes a leave of absence to deal with the aftermath of the incident – one that continues to take its toll on the Phillip family.
“It’s hard seeing my mom cry,” said Lynda’s son, Paul Phillip. “She’s my rock. She has always been there for me. She would do anything and everything for anyone. She’d give the shirt off her back. She’s the most important person in my life.”
This is not the first time tragedy has struck Lynda Phillip. Her sister was killed at the age of 21 by a drunk driver. But from such tragedies, she has been able to provide some important life lessons to her children and others.
“I say to make sure you are kind,” said Lynda. “If you do something bad, clean it up right away. You may not get another chance. If love someone tell them, because one day you may not be able to tell them.”
Paul, alongside his girlfriend, Morgan Toone, share the same uncertainty about what lies ahead, but are proactively working to make sure Lynda returns to a wholesome state. They have created a fundraiser at www.giveforward.com to collect donations and have collected $1,195 on a goal of $80,000.
Along with monetary donations, the family is also accepting home goods. Many people have already provided furniture, dishes, and other accessories.
“The support I’ve received is what has kept me going,” said Lynda. “I’m 61 years old, and I’m not supposed to be starting over. I never thought this would happen to me. I never thought I’d be homeless, but I’m trying to look at this like a new start, a new chapter. We’re going to see where this adventure takes me.”
To donate to the Phillip House Fire Recovery Fund, visit http://expnow.com/wr.