By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Local kindness has prevailed in favor of the Martinez family, whose house on 221 W. Tennie Street in Gainesville was destroyed by a gas leak explosion on Jan. 24.
“I cannot stress enough the graciousness of everyone who’s been involved,” said Laurie Leahy, friend of the family and chief executive officer of Thirstystone Resources Inc., employer of Martine and Alma Martinez.
Donated clothes, home items and food have come into use for the family. Since the morning of the explosion on Tennie Street — a disaster that began with a gas leak — the homeless four have received help spearheaded by Leahy, who serves as spokesperson for the Spanish-speaking family.
After time spent in her Denton County residence, the family has stayed in a local motel and is set to move into a rental home when one comes available in Cooke County.
“They’re totally in a holding pattern while we’ve tried to find available housing,” Leahy said. “And many people in the community have been very generous. But to be blunt, some of the issue is that they’ve worked long and hard and they had some nice things, and it’s been hard to replace them.”
The explosion reportedly destroyed the family’s every known possession, including their one vehicle and all the clothes they weren’t wearing on Jan. 24. Local generosity emerged almost instantly; restaurant owners donated gift cards and businesses such as Otts Furniture sent mattresses for the upcoming rental home. Leahy added that Atmos Energy, the natural gas provider at the Martinez residence on Tennie Street, sent the family $3,000. But they would be in much better shape starting out with a low five-figure operating fund, she said, and a benefit account remains open at First State Bank.
“The day before their house blew up, they made their final dryer payment on the first new dryer they’ve ever owned,” Leahy said. “We’re looking hard to help buy them a vehicle and we’re looking hard to accumulate things to get them back on their feet. Piece by piece, they want to have their lives back together.”
The Martinez family includes husband Martine, who works in the printing department of homeware company Thirstystone, and wife Alma, who works in the company’s shipping department. They have two sons, one adolescent and one young adult, and have gone to work nearly every day since their house was destroyed.
“They’re scared to death of not working and not earning money,” said Leahy, who later cited the adage that “it takes a village” to help a struggling family in a time of crisis. “It’s humbling to see the graciousness of everyone who’s tried to help.” For more information about donations, call (940) 612-8020.