DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - As support continues to pour in, the St. Norbert College president spoke to Action 2 News about ways the college is helping those displaced by Wednesday's fire in downtown De Pere.
Nearly two dozen residents were without a home after a massive earlymorning fire destroyed a building on De Pere's South Broadway. The historic building was also home to small businesses.
No people or pets were injured in the fire, but among those displaced are three people connected to St. Norbert College, including professors Stephen Westergan and Jaime Edwards and alumna Katie Summers.
"We knew right away that we had a fire we knew people involved and so it was kind of instantaneous connection," said St. Norbert College President Brian Bruess.
"I did not know that Mr. Westergan, another professor and an alumna lived in the building, so when I heard about that I was quite upset," said Carolyne Roepke, a junior at St. Norbert College.
Bruess says after hearing about the fire the college was prepared to house anyone who needed a roof over their head. The college is now helping a handful of people with housing, clothing, food and emotional support.
"We were prepared to open up one of our gymnasiums with the support of the Red Cross and house all of the people impacted,” said Bruess, "but as it turns out the De Pere community has surrounded everyone involved, so right now it's really the four people that we're helping."
St. Norbert College students have also taken their own initiative to help those affected. They say they did that almost immediately after hearing the fire affected those in their community.
"A lot of people on campus has been doing so much to try and support them. Like, I know people have a GoFundMe page for them,” said Roepke. “The Greek and social life communities on campus are setting up fundraisers like ticket raffles and got a couple of events that are coming up to help raise money for them so they can get back on their feet."
"Something we talk about here is docere verbo, 'to teach by word and example', also like recognizing that these are our brothers and sisters,” said Andrew Gehring, a sophomore at St. Norbert College. “We need to reach out and care for them as one of our own family. I'm really happy that we're doing this.”
For fundraiser and donation information to help those affected click here.