Community fundraiser held for grieving Rensselaer families

March 18, 2018 07:56 PM

RENSSELAER - Two tragedies hit the Rensselaer community hard the past couple of weeks – a deadly fire and a young woman found dead in the Hudson River.

On Sunday, the city came together as “Rensselaer Strong” in support of the grieving families through a massive fundraiser.

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No one was surprised by the good turnout.

"It's always been a tight knit community. Everyone comes together to help each other in need whenever," said Pamela Harwood.

People from different parts of the city of Rensselaer and beyond packed the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Rensselaer County for a pancake breakfast.

"Everybody knows each other. So we all come together. It's no surprise to me. It's awesome," said Tyrese Smith.

They're pulling together in times of tragedy for two separate families. One was left devastated by last weekend's deadly fire in Rensselaer. Authorities say 8-year-old Aymen Alshami was killed along with his mother and grandmother. His 16-year-old sister is still at the hospital fighting for her life. Smith grew up with her older brother, who also survived.

"It's really hard for us in the city. What we have to do in our job is come together so we stay strong not only for the family but for everyone," Smith said.

The community is also trying to come to grips with the loss of 26-year-old Brianna Beebee. Her body was found in the Hudson River after she went missing. No foul play is suspected in her death.

"Brianna was just such a loving, big hearted person. She did so much for her children. They were her world," said Kim Francis.

The breakfast Sunday morning was a major effort to raise funds for both families. Even those who didn't know either family say they were touched by the sadness and felt the need to help.

"We're just so grateful and so thankful that everyone has opened their hearts to help all of us get through this tragedy," Francis said.

Donations could also be made at two separate GoFundMe pages for the Beebe’s and the Alshami’s.


WNYT Staff

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