Nervia Turner lost everything she owned when her home on Tribble Gap Road caught fire and burned down Tuesday morning.
Her granddaughter, Beth Baker, said that the 76-year-old has lived in Forsyth County for her entire life, working as a county employee for more than 40 years and now as a custodian at Forsyth Central High School.
The home on Tribble Gap Road, only about a block away from the school where she works, meant everything to her. Her mother and father had lived there, and she had raised her own kids there.
Baker said that seeing the photos in the newspaper of the house, burned to the ground, was simply heartbreaking.
“That was where all of her memories were,” Baker said. “Unfortunately, you can’t get back all of the pictures that burned, and that was what mattered most to her.”
Baker said, however, that community members have already started to reach out to their family to offer help and support where they can. Baker started a GoFundMe fundraiser to help pay for what was lost and pay for the cleanup required on the property, and community members have already donated more than $2,500.
Others have reached out to Baker to ask what other items they could donate to help Turner. Baker suggested helping to donate clothes and toiletries since she lost them all in the fire on Tuesday.
“She has her bed to sleep in and that’s basically it,” Baker said.
Turner is now also living with seven other family members in their home in Dawson County, and while Baker said that they are incredibly grateful that she has a home to stay in, it is too far from her job.
“That’s going to be a hike for her to travel every single day back and forth for work, and especially at her age, that’s a big deal,” Baker said.
Turner and her family are thankful for what community members have already donated, and they have been overwhelmed by the support that many have shown them in only a couple of days. Baker said that Forsyth Central school leaders have even reached out to offer their help to Turner.
Forsyth County Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said that Forsyth Central is currently collecting gift card donations for Turner. Those looking to donate can drop off a gift card in an envelope at the front desk in the school. Caracciolo said that Turner "especially loves Walmart."
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office also pitched in and donated clothes, toys and other necessities to Turner’s young grandchildren who also lost belongings in the fire.
“We have been overwhelmed with everybody’s comments and prayers and everything,” Baker said. “It’s been awesome to see.”
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For now, Turner’s family is trying their best to offer their own support and rally behind her during such a difficult time.
“Our main priority has been trying to help her as much as we possibly can and just let her know that we’re there for her,” Baker said. “She’s had a really rough life, and she’s 76 and she still works full time as a custodian at Forsyth Central. And being a custodian, that’s not an easy job, but she still gives it her all. She’s the strongest, most hardworking person I know. Anything we can do to help her out, that’s what matters most.”
Turners hopes to one day be able to move back to the property in Forsyth County where she has shared her life with her family and with her community.
“That’s where her heart belongs,” Baker said.