At 5:30 AM, on August 29, 2013, a fast moving fire started in the basement food storage room.
At 6 AM, a neighbor called 911 and Albany firefighters rushed the building in an effort to save our beloved Center.
Everything we built was gone in the matter of 45 minutes.
No one was hurt, for which we will be forever thankful.
The fire occurred almost exactly 15 years after we first purchased the building in September 1998.
Our mortgage was paid off in December 2012.
Funding to provide the down payment and six months operating costs in 1998 was provided by the Community AIDS Partnership through funds raised in AIDSWalk.
Fire investigators were unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the fire, though they found it started in the basement food storage room. The fire was not considered suspicious as the security cameras did not record any illegal activity.
The building, built in 1900, was home to Family & Children’s Services for close to 30 years prior our purchasing the building. Family & Children’s Services also held the initial mortgage for us.
As we toured the building later that day, there was one picture that survived, when all around it had burned.
The picture of Father Damien, that hung at the
Damien Center since 1990, hung crooked on the wall. His face peered unscathed from the broken glass, sending us a message that all was not lost and we would survive this tragedy.
In 2013, despite this devastating fire, The Albany Damien Center was able to continue operations when the First Lutheran Church in Albany provided a home for us. While this meant we had to rebuild our operation from the ground up, we were not deterred. We are currently still located in the Church and continue to thrive & grow since the fire.
“Our passion are the true phoenixes; when the old one is burnt out, a new one rises from its ashes.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [1749-1832]