SPRINGDALE — The spirit of kindness and generosity during the coronavirus pandemic is now touching the lives of a Springdale mother and her three children, who lost their home on March 8 when a car crashed into their apartment.
No one was in the apartment when the vehicle plowed into it.
People who learned about the McNear family's plight on WCPO 9 News and in a private Facebook group are donating gift cards, furniture and clothing to help Jermaica McNear and her three children, ages 11, 4 and 1, recover and find a new home.
"Oh, my God. You've got me in tears," said Jermaica's mother, La'Tonya McNear, when the WCPO 9 I-Team told her about the donations.
A building inspector determined McNear's unit in the Willows of Springdale apartments was uninhabitable until repairs are made.
McNear and her children, ages 11, 4 and 1, were unable to find another home, so they moved in with family.
Voice messages left on McNear's cell phone show staff in the Willows of Springdale property management office told McNear on March 16 that she would be able to rent another apartment across the street.
But on March 31, a property management employee left another voice message for McNear telling her that workers were unavailable to do rehab work on a vacant apartment because it was considered "nonessential" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"She told me that they found somewhere for me and my kids to go," McNear told the I-Team last week. "And boom! Now look at me. I don't have a home."
"I really felt bad for her," said Brittany Tubbs, who learned about McNear's situation on Facebook.
"I didn't want to see her and her children lose everything."
Tubbs said she has two children and had recently been approved to rent a house in Colerain Township.
"I texted the landlord and told him there's somebody who needed it more than me," Tubbs told the WCPO 9 I-Team.
Tubbs said she explained McNear's situation to the property owner, Syed Maricar, who agreed to rent the house to Jermaica and her children instead of Tubbs.
"That's God," McNear told the I-Team on Tuesday as she expressed gratitude for Tubbs' generosity.
McNear's desperate search for a new home had been complicated by fear of exposure to COVID-19 and fewer landlords showing properties during social distancing.
She's also low-income and her rent is paid with government housing vouchers, often referred to as Section 8.
Many landlords don't participate in the housing voucher program.
Maricar told the I-Team his house still needed to be inspected before the McNears could move in.
"I'm confident this will work out," said Maricar.
"We're planning to give her the keys when the inspectors approve it."
"He was the only landlord who would work with me," said McNear.
Immediately following the I-Team's April 14 story about the McNear family, other viewers also offered to help Jermaica and her children.
Donna Kabakoff, a retired school teacher, worked with her friends to collect money for a gift card.
They are also donating furniture and a television to the McNears.
"I saw the look on her face. That's what got me," said Kabakoff.
"You have to do something. You can't just let someone else do it."
Kabakoff said she needed help moving the furniture to the McNears' new house.
Chris Lewin, a Cincinnati nurse, said her family has two pickup trucks and will use them to transport the donations and McNear's other belongings to her home.
"I have the ability to help and I want to," Lewin told the I-Team.
The McNears' story also moved Kathy Zembrodt, the mayor of Park Hills, Ky., to offer her assistance.
"My heart just ached for her," said Zembrodt.
Zembrodt said she had been a single mom with three children who struggled at times to pay rent.
"You're scared and don't know what to do."
Zembrodt, who said she's acting as a private citizen, not the mayor, is also working with friends to collect funds and find resouces for the McNears.
"Sometimes, all you need is a break and a hand up," Zembrodt told the I-Team.
Brittany Tubbs said her previous struggles also convinced her to help the McNears.
"It just made me feel good knowing that I was able to help her and get her out of that situation."
McNear wiped away tears as she thanked Tubbs, Zembrodt, Lewin, Kabakoff and their family and friends for their kindness.
"I'm just blessed. I want to thank everyone," said McNear.
"I want to thank God for being by my side during this hard time."
The I-Team will follow up on the volunteer efforts to assist the McNear family and report on the move into their new home.