The Providence, Rhode Island, community is stepping up to aid two police officer brothers who lost everything in a house fire in May, coming together in virtual and in-person fundraisers in June to raise money to help the family rebuild their lives.
Officers Michael and Charles Matracia have served over 30 years with the Providence Police Department. Their home, located on Madison Avenue in Cranston, was completely destroyed by a fire. It took everything from the brothers, including many personal belongings, important documents and, tragically, their pets.
In addition to their police work, the brothers are heavily involved in the community. For instance, Michael has worked with outreach programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.
To give back to the officers who have protected the community for so long, fellow law enforcement officers, friends, family and supporters held a fundraiser at St. Mary’s Feast Society in Cranston, with all funds going directly to the brothers and their families.
Providence Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 also set up a Help a Hero page to collect donations online. More than $27,000 was raised via the fundraising platform, far surpassing the original goal of $10,000.
Michael suffers with multiple sclerosis, a disease that impairs the brain and spinal cord, and is confined to a wheelchair. He was at home when the fire began.
“The fire alarm goes off and I’m lying in bed at the time, I don’t smell any smoke, I don’t see anything, I don’t hear anything, nobody’s in the house but me,” Michael recollected.
Then he noticed clouds of smoke coming through the living room, and flames appearing under the door.
“I was sitting there doing my little police thing, a lot of different thoughts were going through my head. So then, I’m sitting there looking at the house and I’m like, my house is on fire. I’m devastated,” he said.
A neighbor was nearby to break down the door, allowing Michael escape.
“I turned on my headlights, set speed to high and off I went through the dark, black smoke. At this point, the smoke was now rushing through the house,” Michael said.
The brothers are grateful for all of the community support.
“We’re going to do everything we can,” FOP Lodge #3 President Michael Imond said. “They’re loyal guys, they’re standup guys, they would both give the shirt off their back for you.”
“As soon as I found out it was the Matracias, you know, we both were like we have to do something,” said longtime family friend Cherie Bordieri, who helped organize the fundraiser.
“While the list is quite extensive, the committee sends its deepest gratitude to all donors, entertainers and supporters for their help,” Bordieri said.