New Bedford is a working-class city. The people here were raised with working-class values. We help each other. We raise each other up in times of crisis. It's who we are.

It didn't surprise me to learn that within hours of the devastating general alarm fire that ravaged a section of Washburn Street on Thanksgiving morning, relief efforts were already being formulated. It's who we are. It's how we were raised.

The City of New Bedford has teamed with a number of community partners, including the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford, to establish a relief fund for the victims of Thursday's fire. Twenty-seven people were rendered homeless by the blaze that is believed to have started with a deep fryer on a back porch of one of the three-deckers destroyed in the fire.

WBSM News reports the Washburn Fire Victims Fund has been established at First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union, and 100 percent of donations will be distributed to the families involved, with no administrative fees deducted. 

To donate, checks made out to the Washburn Fire Victims Fund can be dropped off or mailed to the Inter-Church Council, 128 Union Street Suite 100, New Bedford MA 02740. Donations can also be left for the fund at any First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union. To donate online, visit the Inter-Church Council’s page for this fund at

The fund is administered by the Inter-Church Council thanks to a partnership with First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union, and beginning with a donation of $13,500 from the First Citizens’ Charitable Foundation.

It will take time for the victims of the fire to recover but with the generous support of their neighbors, most will. Donations big and small are welcome and every penny donated will help. 

New Bedford folks are generous and will rise to the occasion. It's who we are. It's how we were raised.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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