Kay Guyton-Miller has been helping local families and children in poverty for almost two decades – but now she is picking up the pieces of her own life after her home burned last month.
Kay has long been a community advocate for people struggling to stay afloat. She helps them get access to everything from the bare essentials to serious help.
She is also Stoke Schools “social connector” who helps foster links between the school and the wider community. She is known as the “Angel in my Street,” funded by the Nelson Tasman Charitable Trust.
“I’ve always helped people,” she says. “So it’s really hard to accept help.”
It was two and a half weeks ago that she was awoken to a loud bang in the middle of the night. She looked around and saw the flames pouring over the walls of her Gladstone St home.
“I raced out and went to wake up my husband and then to my son’s bedroom.”
She managed to get them up and out of the house. Kay thought dog, Dre, was right beside her, but he didn’t make it.
“He was such a wonderful dog. He was a best friend to all of us in different ways. That is really sad. But I feel so grateful it could have been so much worse.”
Looking around the property now Kay wonders how they made it out alive. The entire house is charred, her van that she used to ferry supplies to needy families is burned out. Her garage is gutted. The only things that remain are a few drawers with some clothes and some family photos.
“We were left with nothing.”
Kay is in dispute with her insurance company about helping salvage something from the accident. Investigators are still working on the cause of the blaze.
It means she and her husband are living separately, with friends, until they can get back on their feet.
“It’s the shock of it all. You work hard all your life – I bought that house on my own raising kids on my own. And it’s all gone just like that.”
They are hoping to demolish the home that Kay bought 24 years ago – the one with all her children’s heights marked on the wall. Then they want to build a small garage at the back of the property so they can at least live back together.
“We will live there until we figure out the next step.”
But she needs help. Her goddaughter set up a Givealittle page for Kay and her family to help her through the difficult times.
In the meantime, they need a two-three bedroom place in Richmond to live.
Before then, though, there is work to do. Kay went back to her job yesterday – still helping her community despite the problems that she is facing.
“You have to. You just have to keep on going.”