WOONSOCKET — Paul and Lorraine Jacob lost just about everything they owned when a Feb. 4 fire swept through their 49 Hillsdale Street home.
It will be a long journey back for Jacob, a well-known local video and sound company owner and his wife, but the first steps have been taken on that path with the help of the couple’s family members and friends.
The Jacob’s heavily-damaged home has been razed and work is now set to begin on putting a new home on its foundation.
And to coincide with that rebuilding milestone, the Autumnfest Steering Committee, of which Paul Jacob is a longtime member, this week turned over a check for $10,135.03, the amount of money the organization and a group of volunteers was able to raise for the Jacobs through three separate fundraisers this spring.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Paul Jacob said after being given a check for the assistance effort at a meeting of the Steering Committee in the Wyndemere Woods community room. “We didn’t expect anything like this,” Jacob said.
While the money will help with the couple’s rebuilding efforts, Jacob said they gained much more than that from the fundraisers that were held for their benefit.
“The friendship and the fellowship that we felt at the events was indescribable,” Jacob said. “There were people there that I haven’t seen in a long time and we got to talk everyone and it was appreciated,” he said.
The fundraising effort included a beer and dynamite held at the Italian Workingmens Club, a Sip of Wine and Taste of Chocolate night at the St. Ann’s Arts and Cultural Center, and a “Giving Back” show at the Stadium Theatre.
Autumnfest Steering Committee Vice Chair Rachel Arruda was overall chairman of the project. Flo Bourget ran the Beer and Dynamite night, Lorraine Cloutier chaired the Sip of Wine and Taste of Chocolate, and Tim Paul the Giving Back show at the Stadium.
“I thought it was great,” Arruda said of the final tally for the Jacobs. “It wasn’t surprising, however, because Paul has always been involved in the community and that’s why the fundraiser at the Stadium was called “Giving Back,” she said.
A long list of sponsors and volunteers contributed to the events to make them successful, she noted. Gary McLaughlin of Kevin’s Galley and his staff helped out as did Dave Lahousse of Kay’s, a longtime friend and neighbor of the Jacobs. Tina Go was able to bring in volunteers from the Beacon Charter High School to help out at the events and friends such as Roger Bouchard, Dave Dean, and Paul Pelletier, and Yvette Ayotte all played a role in the fundraising.
Donna and Steven Moran provided printed tickets for the events and Hill Liquors assisted the drive as well, Arruda said.
Jacob said he was a bit uncomfortable with all the attention at first but got over that quickly. “There were just so many people trying to help,” he said of outpouring of support.