A structure fire on Bedford Street recently took the life of 4 year old Chantay Drake, her mother succumbed to her injuries from the fire a few days later. As with most families, no one really plans for the death of a child, and life insurance for Chantay was probably the furthest thing from her mother Susan Therrien's thoughts.
As a result of her tragic death, Chantay deserves to be laid to rest in a proper ceremony and burial.
To attempt accomplish that , I spoke with State Representative Doug McCrory of the 7th District. Doug is my State Rep and I also proudly serve with him on the Democratic Town Committee. I know Doug's passion for the City and its children and especially his commitment to children, both through Sports Programs and Education.
I contacted Doug and asked if he would help me establish a relief fund to accept donations for the burial and funeral expenses of Chantay and if extra money was collected the remainder would be used to establish a college fund for the surviving child, Kayla Drake. Doug readily agreed to help.
The next step was to call Marco Signorelli, the Director of the Hartford Municipal Employees Credit Union, to establish an account to accept donations. Within minutes, with the cooperation of Marco and his staff, the account was opened. Donations to the fund can be sent to the Hartford Municipal Employees Federal Credit Union at 443 Franklin Avenue, Hartford, CT 06114 c/o the "Bedford Street Fire Victims Fund". Thank you to Marco and his staff for their committment to Hartford.
Next was the issue of arranging for a Funeral and services and finding a Funeral Director that would arrange the services knowing that payment was not guaranteed. I called Frank Ahern of the Ahern Family Funeral Home. My family has known the Ahern's going back probably over 60 years to my grandmother who was very good friends with Francis Ahern, the original founder of the business.
I had a conversation previously with Frank Ahern at the wake for my Uncle at their Unionville location a couple years ago. During that conversation, Frank told me about a conversation and a promise he had made to his father before his father passed away. His father had a definite love for Hartford and apparently asked Frank to promise him that as long as the Ahern family remained in business they would always have a presence in Hartford. Frank agreed, and he lives true to that promise today.
I called Frank and imposed on him for a favor. I explained the situation and asked what he could do. Without hesitating he replied that I should tell Chantay's family that the Ahern Family would take care of Chantay's needs without question. There apparently are some state benefits available that will offset some of the cash expenses, grave openings, death certificates, the vault and other required items,. Other than that, the Ahern's are taking care of the arrangements.
In the end, after the necessary costs are covered , that will hopefully allow the remainder of the Fund to be set aside to establish a College fund for Kayla so that when she turns 18, she will have a head start on obtaining an education It will be a difficult road for Kayla without her sister and her mother, but she is very fortunate to have a loving aunt and Grandmother who are caring for her now.
This has been a very difficult and trying time, but , despite being a terrible tragedy it is also gratifying to see people coming together and forging ahead to ensure that Chantay has a proper and respectful ceremony to make sure she is able to rest in peace..
In addition to Frank Ahern and Marco Signorelli, I would like to also thank Andrea Comer and Marta Bentham for their diligence and commitment to Kayla and Chantay. To all of the donor's that are making this possible, thank you also. If you haven't sent a check yet, please consider doing so any amount is greatly appreciated. And also keep in mind that we are still collecting items for the burned out families also, clothing and household items to help them get back on their feet can be dropped off at Trinity Episcopal Church at 120 Sigourney Street in Hartford, Monday through Thursday from 9:00am to 3:00PM. The office is closed on Friday's. Or on Sunday during Church Services
One thing I am sure Hartford does have are caring people that step up during difficult times. My sincerest thanks and gratitude to all.
Below are the details for Chantay's Services:
Shantay Lynn Drake 2009 - 2014 | Obituary |
Shantay Lynn Drake, 4, of Hartford, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014. Shantay was born April 3, 2009 in Hartford to Bobby Drake and Susan Therrien. Shantay was a student at Jumoke Academy at Milner School where she will be dearly missed. Her mother Susan has joined her in Heaven. She is survived and was extremely loved by her father Bobby who misses her hugs and vampire smiles, her inseparable sister Kayla Drake, many brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. We know our little angel is hugging our Lord and Savior. Friends may call at the Christian Liberty Center, 23 Vine St., Hartford on the corner of Vine Street and Albany Avenue on Saturday (Feb. 8) from 10:00-11:00am followed by a Celebration of her Life at 11:00am in the Christian Liberty Center. Burial will be in Spring Grove Cemetery, 2035 Main St., Hartford. Arrangements are being handled by The Ahern Funeral Homes, Inc., www.ahernfuneralhome.com. Published in The Hartford Courant on Feb. 4, 2014