Classes don't start until next week, but inside the Brown Deer Elementary School gymnasium on Thursday, Aug. 25 there was a lesson in compassion.
"It's been amazing," said resident Jessica Bittle.
The American Red Cross of Wisconsin organized a multi-agency resource center to give the 46 displaced families the chance to start over again.
"In times of disaster, it's important for the community to come together," the Red Cross' Shana Beal said.
Red Cross organizes resources for residents displaced by Brown Deer apartment fire
Bittle is among those suddenly out of a home after flames burned through a portion of the River Place Apartments off of Green Bay Road.
"Right now, it's just still so overwhelming. It's surreal. You still don't want to believe that it happened," she said.
Fourteen different agencies set up shop in the school's gymnasium Thursday to offer a helping hand.
"Providing housing resources, financial assistance, food share support, art therapy, dog companion therapy," said Beal.
Fire at River Place Apartments in Brown Deer
And beyond that, a message: Their apartments may be gone, but they'll always a have a place in the community.
"I don't want to leave. I do like it up here," said Bittle. "It's a great community. It's a great area, so it's like just seeing all of this just kind of reinforces this is where we need to be. Let's stay here, regroup and try it again."
Thursday's event is just another step in the families' recoveries. The Red Cross is planning follow-up recovery with each of the 46 impacted families.