Dave Greenwald had to step back and watch his home burn.
Greenwald, a Port Matilda Fire Company firefighter, called in the blaze consuming his borough mobile home Jan. 28. When his company and Philipsburg firefighters arrived, he started assisting at first but stopped, too overcome with emotion to continue.
“It’s kind of hard when it’s your place,” he said.
Times are still tough for him; his wife, Megan; and their 1-year-old daughter, Kaitlynn.
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Since they lost their home and everything else, the Greenwalds have been staying in their neighbor’s basement, hoping to find a rental apartment in or close to Port Matilda. It may be eight or nine months before they can replace their mobile home.
“We’re still struggling right now because we’re waiting on the insurance,” he said.
Meanwhile, fellow firefighters and borough residents have come to their aid.
His company recently held a sandwich bag lunch sale, with nearby Lykens Market donating the meat, cheese, rolls, potato chips, cookies and bags.
The response was “tremendous,” said Lorrie Price, a fire company vice president. She didn’t know the amount that went to the Greenwalds but said several people came into the sale simply to give donations.
“It was great,” Price said. “It was like an awesome thing to help out.”
Firefighters have also established a fund under the name of Dave and Megan Greenwald in care of First National Bank. Checks can be mailed to the branch at 1667 N. Atherton St., or dropped off there and at the 1175 S. Allen St. and 500 E. Marylyn Ave. branches.
“Right now, a build-up of money in that account would be the best thing possible for them,” Price said.
Among other things, the Greenwalds could use toys, baby care items and summer clothes for Kaitlynn, Price said. They’re expecting their second child in June.
Donations can be arranged by calling Price at 571-2440. Items given so far are being kept at her house and at the station, but a spare storage unit or shed would be appreciated, Price said.
Though Price wasn’t on duty the night of the fire, she said the call was “very emotional” for Port Matilda’s firefighters.
“I know it was,” Price said. “It’s hard at any fire you go to, but when you hear about one of your own firefighters in need, you still have to keep everything together.”
They couldn’t save Greenwald’s home, the possible victim of a space heater.
But they can help until he finds another.
“He’s one of our own,” Price said.
As they regroup, the support has lifted the Greenwalds — a bright spot in a dark month.
“It definitely has made it a lot easier for us to know there are people out there who care,” Dave Greenwald said. “And they’re helping us get through it.”
If your heart is set on dancing, if you have soft spot in your heart for veterans, enjoy Valentine’s Day at the Port Matilda American Legion.
The club at 501 W. Front St. is holding its first Sweetheart Dance from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday. Open to the public, the 21-and-over bash will feature ’80s and ’90s rock and pop from the band Shot Inthedark.
There’s no cover, but a portion of food and drink sales will go to food banks, to help families, and to local veterans organizations. Donations also will be accepted.
The club thought of the dance as part of its annual community charity, which includes donations to Special Olympics and the Port Matilda Fire Company, said club manager Kimberly Korman.
“We’re very excited,” Korman said.
For more information, call the club at 692-4413 or check out its Facebook page.