Hope Amidst the Flames
What do Feb. 3, 2009 and Dec. 23, 2009 have in common? Both days will be remembered by the Phillips’ family for the rest of their lives. You may remember the 34 car pile-up on Interstate 69 on February 3, 2009. The weather was much like what Indianapolis has been experiencing this month.
Ryan Phillips was one of two individuals that lost their lives that day in the I69 pile-up. He was 28 years old, married to Ivy Phillips; they had one child together: Charlie Phillips, now 1 ½ years old. Ryan also left behind two other children: Rylee Phillips, now 8 yrs. old and Jaxin Phillips, 5 years old; (their mother is Holly Webb, of Anderson).
Tracy Ashcraft, cousin to Ryan Phillips, tells us that “(Ryan) loved fishing and the outdoors.” Said Tracy: “He was a genuinely sweet and loving person; quiet and shy.” She recalled the Christmas before Ryan died, they were visiting over the holidays and in a moment between Tracy and Ryan visiting and catching up after not seeing each other for about a year, Ryan “out of nowhere” said to her: “You’re so pretty.” “You’re beautiful.” She recalls him as having a “Big heart.”
Tragedy strikes the (Phillips), Webb family again. Just hours before Christmas Eve, on December 23, 2009, Rylee Phillips, no doubt anticipating the holidays’ excitement, plugged in a vacuum to clean her room. There was a spark and mom, Holly, heard a ‘pop’. An electrical fire broke out. A fuse had blown that started the fire. The family got out of the house safely, but Holly, unemployed and without renters insurance, was left to yet again pick up from life’s tragedies and move forward with her children.
Holly and her children stayed at the Rescue Home in Anderson, which is next to the Anderson Fire Department. The Rescue Home provides temporary housing (for 2 weeks). The Fire Department then acted as an advocate and helped Holly find a place to rent. The Anderson Fire Department assisted Holly with her first month’s rent and the Red Cross helped the family with a deposit for Holly’s rental home. The rental home came with appliances, except a refrigerator, which has already been donated by another party.
Tracy Ashcraft, seeing the family’s need, began organizing to assist the displaced family. Holly and her family could now see Hope Amidst the Flames of the home they lost and the husband and father tragically taken from them. Through Tracy’s efforts, and now additionally, many community members, efforts are being made to assist the family and hopefully, future families in the Lawrence area that are displaced by fire.
An event, “Renew the Hope,” is slated to raise money, household items and clothing and is in Ryan Phillips’ honor on Saturday, February 6, 2010 beginning at 3:00 p.m.. The fundraiser is being held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars, 6605 Lee Road, Indianapolis, IN 46236. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend! There will be a raffle for many items including a television. Tracy Ashcraft, the event’s organizer, is currently looking for donations from individuals as well as businesses to provide items that can donated to the family or be raffled to raise funds for (Phillips) Webb family . Products as well as services (such as: restaurant gift cards or multi-use gift cards) would be welcomed for the raffle. In addition, Tracy would like to also have volunteers for the day of the event that could assist in selling raffle tickets, set-up or bringing a side dish of food. For more details of needs for the upcoming event or to offer a food item, please contact Tracy Ashcraft at 542-0944.
At the event, Skip Ockomon (with the Anderson Fire Department and brother of Anderson Mayor, Kris Ockomon), will be offering a few words in honor of Ryan Phillips. This will commemorate the 1 year anniversary of Ryan’s death on Feb. 3rd, 2009. This event will also kick off what Tracy refers to as the beginning of “Renew the Hope,” a community effort to assist Lawrence families displaced by fire. Tracy, in collaboration with the Lawrence Township Fire Department, is anticipating building a rescue home in Lawrence Township for families displaced by fire. According to Tracy, the property for the future rescue home may already be acquired. Many volunteers and skilled laborers (such as electricians, plumbers) will be needed for this undertaking. Building materials; household furnishings; toiletry bags, stuffed animals; clothing are just some of the items Tracy anticipates will be needed as the project moves forward.
In order to alert the community to this very needed effort, Tracy would ideally like to have an IT person willing to volunteer time to create and perhaps maintain a website for Renew the Hope.
As Holly Webb, Rylee and Jaxin Phillips well know, it takes a community to raise a family, or in this case, a home of refuge.