The fire that raged through the home of the Benes family in Riverside on Friday evening, Feb. 26 left them with a dual tragedy, the loss of Dolores Benes as a result of the fire and the loss of the longtime Benes home on Audubon Road in Riverside.

Also residing in the home was Ray Benes; his son and daughter-in-law, Ken and Gina; and their two young sons.

With their home and belongings gone, friends, neighbors and community members have stepped in to assist the family. To date Rita Domeier, whose son attends St. Mary’s preschool with one of the Benes children, has received numerous calls about how people can help.

Domeier has been helping to collect clothing for the family, since not much was salvageable. Members of the St. Mary’s community have stepped forward and are gathering information on how to help the family.

According to Mike Cronin and Bob Lyons of the St. Mary’s Men Club, the club is preparing to offer assistance to the family in any way necessary. Information on the Men’s Club can be obtained through the Club’s website: www.stmarymensclub.com.

Meanwhile, Cherisse Marcheschi, longtime neighbor of the family and vice-president/ branch manager of National City Bank at 40 E. Burlington St. in Riverside has indicated that a fund has been established for the family.

A savings account has been set up in the name of Gina Benes. Marcheschi indicated that anyone wishing to donate money can come to the bank with cash or with a check made out to Gina Benes. Further information is available by contacting the bank at 442-9700. Marcheschi also said the bank will serve as a drop-off point for anyone who has items for the family.

The Beneses were longtime residents of Audubon Road where they raised their six children – five boys and one girl. Members of St. Mary’s Parish, Dolores was active in what was then known as the Altar and Rosary Society, now the CCW.

She could be found in the kitchen or helping with the bake sales. She also lent her voice to singing with the choir. Ray was the sports enthusiast, coaching the Little League team or just going out to the field to cheer on the teams. As residents of Audubon Road they gladly took part in the social activities on that close-knit street, most noticeably helping build the annual July 4 float.

So as tragedy strikes, a community bands together to help its own whether they knew them or not. That is what community is about.