On Monday, February 27, a freak electrical fire ripped through an Upper East Side apartment on 83rd and Third Avenue, displacing its sole inhabitant, Jenna Orndorf. A resident for over 12 years, the 36-year-old mortgage industry professional was en route to her Pennsylvania hometown at the time to visit family (her two cats were rescued by neighbors and firefighters).
Though no other apartments were impacted by the blaze, Orndorf’s completely burnt down, leaving her with no possessions and no place to live. Renter’s insurance provided her with a temporary hotel stay in the neighborhood while she figured out her next move (she’s since signed a year lease on a new pad), and although the unfortunate event caused considerable chaos, it also brought to light the power of community.
“My sister made a GoFundMe page to rebuild and I posted on the Nextdoor app to find support amongst our NYC community. Someone there suggested I go on [the] ‘BuyNothingUES’ Facebook group and so I joined and posted about my story as well,” Orndorf told East Side Feed. “As days went on, I got a flooding of messages from people all over the UES looking for ways to help. I have received so many different kinds of donations from food, cat needs, furniture and clothes. It has truly made such a difference in my world to be able to start over.”
The story has received considerable media attention, even snagging a Good Morning America segment focused on the “buy nothing” movement. The concept continues to gain popularity, as many seek to downsize, recycle and consider sustainability when evaluating their purchasing power. In Orndorf’s case, it’s been particularly beneficial, as she was swiftly able to replace many items at no cost.
“I am so very grateful for New York City every day, but it’s times like this that make me really remember how great New York City is,” she said. “It will always be home and I am blessed to have such great, compassionate neighbors here.”
With upwards of eight million people in our fair city, it can certainly feel overwhelming — but when you need it most, help is right around the corner.
The GoFundMe page is still active, here.