LOCKPORT, N.Y. -- Kathy O’Keefe remembers thinking she'd lose everything when she saw how close the fire was to her Stevens Street business.
But she didn't. Instead, she saw firefighters working around the clock, and a community who banded together to show their appreciation. Ultimately, nobody lost a home.
“So many people came, they came with water, food, they even all picked up hoses...so it was a community effort, they came together in a tragedy,” O’Keefe said.
That was the encouraging part.
She also remembers the tragic outcome: Joe Phillips, 14, died in that fire, and a trial revealed the surviving teens involved had texted and taken videos, but no one called 911.
“That just is what haunted me the whole time. If they had called…if they had called the right person, if they had contacted the right people, would it have been a different outcome? And we won't know.”
It’s the combination of community spirit and the lesson learned from not seeking help that led her to organize Lock City Deck Fest: A night out between several local restaurants with raffle baskets placed at each and live music.
Ennis' West End on Ohio street was one of the participating restaurants. The owner lost three days of income during the evacuation.
The money raised will support youth outreach programs for both the police and fire departments.
“I think [police and fire] appreciate the opportunity to have the funds there that can better serve getting them out there so that the kids aren't afraid of them,” O’Keefe said.
In doing so, O’Keefe hopes kids feel more comfortable calling for help.
“My biggest thing is just really driving home the mission, and that is stop, think, call 911,” she said. “They know this could be trouble, so why aren't they calling? Why are they videotaping? Why are they texting each other? Why are they posting it in Facebook instead of making that all important call?”
O’Keefe hopes to make the event even bigger next year.
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