By Adam Black
The Ashland Beacon
From freshly made doughnut holes, a hot home-cooked meal or just a smile on her face welcoming customers, Rene Fitch has been serving the community for more than 30 years, but now after falling on some hard times, the community is rallying around Rene.
After working for more than 30 years at Ken's Express Mart on 29th Street, Fitch said goodbye to the store as it closed its doors for good. With the unexpected closing of the store, Fitch found herself in an unplanned situation.
“Rene just happened to be in my store shortly after she lost her job, I asked how she was doing, and she told me it wasn’t looking good,” Second Hand Rose Owner and City Commissioner Matt Perkins said.
Perkins explained, Fitch had been working several months without pay up to the stores closing on Dec. 31 resulting in bills piling up.
“She was on the verge of losing everything,” Perkins said. “She had no phone, electric was being turned off, and her trailer was on the verge of being repossessed.”
With some quick thinking, Perkins rallied the community to come together and help Fitch find a new job and get back to financial stability.
“I got her in touch with my mom, who was a founding member of CAReS,” Perkins said. “I knew she would have resources to assist Rene and she was able to keep the electric from being shut down, her family gave her a phone, and I immediately put a call out for folks to know she needed employment.”
With the call for help out in the community by a GoFundMe Campaign by Perkins called “Rally Round Rene,” the community rushed to the aid of Fitch. Donations to the campaign started rolling in immediately from members of the Ashland community and from residents whom Fitch has served over the years.
“Rene is so humble she wouldn’t ask anyone for help,” Perkins said. “I’ve done this out of my love and respect for who she is as a person.”
As of Saturday, at noon the campaign had raised more than $5,500 by 115 donors in one day. The goal for the GoFundMe fundraiser is currently set at $8,000, and Perkins believes it can be reached.
“God has blessed this community with Rene who has cooked for us for so many years,” Perkins said. “I knew they would come through for her and they have so far.”
Several members of the community rallying together for Fitch have also shared the GoFundMe campaign on their social media sites and left words of encouragement for her on the public donor's page.
“Rene has greeted our family with her smile for years. She makes the best doughnuts and baked goods anywhere. We love you, Rene,” Russ and Miri Crawford posted.
“Rene is one of the hardest working people We’ve known. Always has a smile no matter the circumstances. She would be a first-class asset for any employer,” David Webb posted to the page.
With 921 shares on Facebook and pages of encouraging comments to Fitch, the GoFundMe campaign has reached trending status on the GoFundMe site.
If interested in donating to the cause visit gf.me/v/c/mh9/6p6e2ts or donations can be dropped off to Perkins at Second Hand Rose on 13th Street till 6 p.m. Saturday.
“She makes the best cream-filled doughnut holes in the world, how could you not want to get her back to work baking as soon as possible,” Perkins said.