More than a month after their entire life went up in flames, the Thipharacksa and Melendez families have settled into their new home on Aztec Trace and are forging ahead stronger than ever.

“Our situation felt like a puzzle and everyone who helped us was a piece that helped make us whole again,” said Tania Thipharacksa about the outpouring of community support her family received after their mobile home on Bob White Lane burned down Sept. 24 from a suspected electrical fire. “We are doing great and appreciate everything people did for us.”

Thipharacksa said she especially cannot thank Rebecca Pearce enough for setting up a benefit account with Extraco Banks to help them get back on their feet.

“There really are good people out there,” she said. “We didn’t expect anyone to help us because people lose their homes everyday, and we were so fortunate that the community came together for us.”

Community members donated $630. Several people from Pearce’s church, Faith Fellowship in Nolanville, also offered furniture, clothing and other in-kind donations.

“When I read their story, I felt a nudge in my heart from God to help them,” said Pearce, a Heights resident. “So many people wait around for ‘somebody to do something.’ I decided I was ‘somebody.’”

Once strangers, the Pearce and Thipharacksa families have become friends.

“My entire family and I showed up at her church to surprise her and to thank her in person,” Thipharacksa said.

It only took three minutes for the family of seven to lose everything as they watched their home reduced to ashes. But help came from some unexpected places.

“I couldn’t believe that a stranger would go out of their way to help us,” Thipharacksa said about Pearce.

Thipharacksa said assistance also came from Central Texas College, which replaced her husband’s books and gave him more time to complete assignments. The schools her four children attend gave them supplies, and others helped them find a home and discounts on items they needed.

“They’re a really nice family, and I’m glad that I’m getting to know Taina,” Pearce said.

Contact Vanessa Lynch at or 254-501-7567.

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