October 26, 2017

United Way helping the Purdue community: Brian Knoy's story

Brian Knoy Brian Knoy, director of development for the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons) Download image

This week, Purdue Today will offer profiles on Purdue community members who have benefited from United Way services. Today, Brian Knoy, director of development for the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, shares his story about how the Red Cross helped after his family lost everything in a house fire.

How long have you worked at Purdue?

21 years.

Which United Way agency did you work with?

Red Cross.

What led you to using the service?

Four years ago, we had a house fire. It was the Friday before Memorial Day. I had just gotten home, gotten the kids off the bus, and we were going to a local high school baseball game. We went to pick up friends of our boys, and I got a call about 10 minutes later that our house was on fire. We went back home and it was in total flames, like a movie scene. It had been only been about 15 minutes. We lost everything.

How did you benefit?

Shortly after the fire department got there, the Red Cross showed up. They asked if there was anything they could do for us, and they offered water and Gatorade not just for our family but also for the firefighters and first responders. They also asked if we had anywhere to stay tonight and they were happy to put us up or take care of us in that way if it was necessary. Fortunately, we were blessed with family and friends to stay with, but the Red Cross was great. They were very helpful and beneficial for us in just being there. We had nothing. Just the shirts on our backs. It was great and very thoughtful of them that they showed up.

I don’t know how they actually showed up, how they got that information, but they were great. They even stayed after the firefighters left and they gave the firefighters water and Gatorade and offered food and things. It really was great and humbling.

Did they follow up and continue to check on you down the road?

They followed up and checked on us about a week or so later to see how we were doing. Like I said, we were very blessed to have family and friends we could stay with. If we didn’t have those folks, the Red Cross definitely would have been an opportunity for us.

How did the Red Cross help specifically with your kids?

They checked to make sure our kids were OK and offered to get clothes right away. They also helped if we needed toiletries or toys right away or any of those sorts of things.

What would you like to tell someone who is considering reaching out to a United Way agency?

You don’t realize how quickly life can change in a moment’s notice. We were blessed and continue to be thankful that no one was home when the fire started. God was definitely watching over us that day. The United Way agencies are there to assist when times are tough.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think programs like the Red Cross are great. It’s what makes our community as strong as it is. You don’t realize how close you could be to having a United Way agency helping you out. I never thought that we would need that kind of help, but actually being on the side of needing those agencies was humbling. It was very great that they were there.


* The Purdue United Way Campaign runs through Nov. 15 with the goal of raising $785,000 for local agencies in need. A link to donate as well as more information can be found on the Purdue United Way website. Questions about the campaign can be directed to Megan Dale, Purdue United Way director, at dale12@purdue.edu or 765-494-9240.

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