A terrible accident left NY1’s New Yorker of the Week without her brother, but she is using her pain to try to keep others safe.
Camelia Robinson is teaching young children what to do if they're in a fire, in the hopes that what happened to her family won't happen again.
Camelia's family was dealt a tragic blow when her 10-year-old brother died in a fire in March of 2000.
“It touched my life very deeply because Kelvin was my only sibling,” she says. “He was the only sibling I had, and at the time of the fire our family did not have any insurance."
It's been more than four years since Camelia lost her brother in that two-alarm fire in South Jamaica, Queens. The experience inspired her to start a foundation in his name.
The Kelvin Robinson Foundation teaches fire safety and prevention to students and adults alike. It also helps residents citywide if they are hurt in a fire, or if a family member is hurt or killed. The foundation can provide referrals, transportation, and financial aid with burials.
“I know what it's like to lose a loved one to a fire, and I also know what it's like to not only lose a loved one, but to not have the proper resources to get your life started over again," says Camelia.
Camelia's brother lost his life because the batteries in the family's smoke alarm were dead. She says parents and children need to know how to protect themselves.
“A lot kids in that age bracket is not aware of the potential dangers that a fire can have,” she says. “They are not aware of what a working smoke alarm is, or how it can save your life. They are not aware of perhaps how to Îstop, drop and roll’ and how to properly have a fire escape plan.”
Recently Camelia and the Kelvin Robinson Foundation went to P.S. 273 in Brooklyn to teach fire safety. School administrators were more than impressed.
“She took a tragedy and turned it into a positive for many children in the school system by coming out and expressing the importance of fire safety," says P.S. 273 Parent Coordinator Robin Graham.
Vounteers are inspired by her drive to get the word out about fire safety.
“Even if it's just myself, I want to do the best to help her," says Biba Pedron, the Events Coordinator for the Kelvin Robinson Foundation.
“I have seen this from the beginning, so I know the time that it took and the dedication that it took to get it to this level," says the foundations’s Reverand Islam.
So, for creating public good out of personal tragedy, Camelia Robinson is our New Yorker of the Week.
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