On August 24th there was a fire in the building owned by the American Friends Service Committee in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights has its office. The fire broke out in the basement around 3:00 in the morning and was probably caused by an electrical problem. Fortunately, the building had an alarm system that was tied directly to the fire station so Cambridge firefighters were able to respond quickly. Through their skillful work, they managed to contain most of the fire to the basement.
Thankfully, no one was injured. Everyone who works in or is associated with 2161 Massachusetts Avenue is grateful to the firefighters for their efforts.
We have lost a fair amount of MVFHR inventory and materials that were in the basement: newsletters, reports, training materials, banners, t-shirts, buttons, and archived files. Our office on the first floor, while apparently intact, has, like the rest of the building, suffered intense smoke damage. As I write, the building is stable but toxic; clean-up and other recovery work should be well underway soon. At this point, we don't know to what extent our files, materials, furniture, and equipment have been damaged, but our important information is backed up and we will be able to recover it should our equipment not be salvageable.
Obviously this is a bit of a challenge for MVFHR, AFSC, and the other social justice organizations with whom we share a common home. MVFHR is fortunate to have a wonderful staff that manages time and again to rise to challenges, and I know that Priscilla Caputo, Kate Lowenstein, Susannah Sheffer, Catherine Brady, and I will be working together to make the adjustments necessary to go forward and carry out MVFHR's work. While the clean-up and recovery are being carried out, we are working from our homes, retrieving and responding to mail, email, and phone messages, and continuing to perform our ongoing program work.
We appreciate the outpouring of support from the MVFHR family – our board of directors, our members and supporters, and our human rights colleagues – and we gratefully welcome financial contributions that will help us reprint some of the materials that the fire destroyed.
Renny Cushing, for the MVFHR staff
To donate money to Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, please go to murdervictimsfamilies.org.