MINNEAPOLIS – A former firefighter who was badly burned on the job turns his pain into a goal.
Jake LaFerriere helped create a unique facility for families dealing with the same issues.
It was in 2010 when LaFerriere’s life changed forever when he was on duty as a firefighter in Minneapolis.
“I was on fire and I jumped off the third floor, and by the grace of God I survived this experience because there was a porch down here that caught me,” LaFerriere said. “I knew my career as a firefighter was over. I was really struggling to want to live at this point.”
But he says he was inspired by kids he met in the burn ward, and he took his second chance at life to help others. He started a non-profit organization called “Firefighters for Healing” and created a camp for burn survivors.
On Wednesday, the nonprofit opened a Transitional Healing Center in downtown Minneapolis. It has 12 fully furnished apartments where burn survivors, first responders and their families can stay for as long as necessary.
“You don’t just go to the burn ward and you’re done. This is a journey, a journey of a long life for most people. They come back for laser surgeries, contractures,” LaFerriere said.
The healing center encompasses the entire second floor of The Moment apartments, conveniently located across the street from Hennepin Healthcare and connected to the skyway system.
The center provides a network of support for families as they navigate the often lengthy recovery process.
“This has not been a labor of love for me, but really my calling. It has really completed me and has come full circle in my life,” he said.
Burn survivors and their families will be moving next month. If you want to join, they are still looking for volunteers or donations. Click here for more information.
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