On Saturday, Jan. 29, the Edwards family of Naples was at Sugarloaf Mountain, attending the Maine State Special Olympics. They were there to support their 21-year-old son, Joey, who is autistic, as he took part in a variety of winter sporting events. But their pride for Joey’s accomplishments was overshadowed the next morning when this very close family of five received devastating news. Their home – and dad Jonathan’s home-based business – had burned to the ground in an early morning fire.

In a matter of a few hours, every semblance of the family’s home-life in Naples was gone. Their 17-year-old home, a single story six-bedroom ranch on Gore Road, was a pile of smoldering ashes. The entire contents were lost, including Jonathan’s equipment for his cable and satellite repair business, all his business records, the kids’ new Christmas toys, all the family’s clothes and furnishings, and Joey’s collection of matchbox cars and baseball caps that will be very hard to replace.

“It was the longest drive I’ve ever taken,” said Jon, “coming home from the mountain and knowing there was nothing to come home to.”

The family is still reeling from the past two weeks. The American Red Cross put them up for three days in a local motel; then they were moved to a South Portland motel. Lane, 18, and J.R. Jr., 13, have been out of school and need to be back among their friends. The family is hopeful that they can get a furnished trailer from Massachusetts on their property by next week and get on with the rest of the work involved in rebuilding their life here. However, there are many, many steps that stand between them and that goal.

As people have been hearing about the family’s needs – primarily through the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, of which Jon is a member – the response has been swift and heartfelt. Now, a fund has been set up at Evergreen Credit Union. Deposits may be made to the Jonathan Edwards Family Fund through any of the three credit union locations in Naples, Windham and Portland. By next week there will be a location to collect items in lieu of money. Watch this paper for updates.

If there was ever a family that could benefit from community support in their time of need, it is the Edwards family. Every little thing people can do to help touches this family deeply. They are grateful to everyone who has reached out to them as they experience the real meaning of community.

Thank you.

Barbara Clark

Executive Director

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce

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