On Oct. 10, 2011, Margretha Pinkney said to her 10-year-old son, Nikko’Las, “I love you from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. You are my gift from God.”
Then she put him to bed, allowing him to watch his favorite show, WWE wrestling.
“The next thing I remember, I was in the hospital demanding to know where Nikko was, and my Granny-Boo looked at me and said, ‘Baby, there’s been a fire,’” Margretha recalled.
First responders helped fill in the details for her: There had been a carbon monoxide leak in the house, sparking a fire. Margretha’s neighbors pulled her out of the window to safety.
Nikko didn’t survive.
“Just like that, my life was gone,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, the Red Cross had already stepped in to help.”
Over the course of the next few days, Margretha met and spoke with several Red Cross volunteers, who arranged for assistance for food, shelter and clothing.
“They never treated me like a victim,” she said. “They treated me like I was part of their family. They let me cry when I wanted to cry, they let me talk when I wanted to talk.”
Herman Sterling did the casework for Margretha and chatted with her often.
“Losing a child is traumatic, and she really needed someone to step in to help her with some of these basic things,” Herman said. “And that’s why the Red Cross is here.”
Margretha is now in a new place, putting back together the pieces of her life.
As she flipped through a memory book Nikko’s classmates from EE Waddell Language Academy gave her, she said Nikko was a brilliant child – he spoke five languages, was an avid reader and had a contagious smile.
“There are still days that are challenging,” she said. “But I know I can always call on the Red Cross if I need support.”