By BEV JORDAN
Concert pianist Katia Pronin and her five children were left homeless after fire ripped through their Castle Hill home on August 28.
It is believed an electrical fault caused the blaze which destroyed the family’s home of two years.
Last week Katia and her young children, aged from 6 to 12, got the keys to a new rental property in Castle Hill after experiencing a month of crisis accommodation which saw them move every two days.
Katia, a trained opera singer, music teacher and founder of the Hills Children’s Choir, is now planning a concert as a way to say thank you to a community that has rushed to her family’s aid.
She was teaching music at the Hills Adventist College’s Kellyville campus when she received a call at about 10.30am saying her home was on fire.
“We lost everything,” she said. “When I left to pick up the kids from school I didn’t know what to say to them.”
Katia’s children, Anton, 12, Olga, 11, Mitya 7 and six-year-old Marsha attend Castle Hill High and Castle Hill Public School. Sasha (10) is currently in Russia staying with her grandparents so that she can study ballet, Fortunately, the children’s two rabbits were unscathed in their hutch in the back garden but that was about it. “We were left with nothing,” said Katia.
As well as being their home Katia also taught piano at the house. The blaze destroyed her newly bought grand piano and also the grand piano she had listed for sale as well as her music books.
“I just didn’t know what to do,” said Katia. “It was such a shock.” She contacted CentreLink who put the family in touch with the homeless service Link2home, and she also contacted Hills Community Aid.
“It was such a relief not to find ourselves on the street,” she said. Having so many kids it has been hard to get a house but people have given me so much support.”
Katia said she and her family didn’t need much and were so grateful for all the support they have received.
“When you don’t have much, you appreciate it more.”
Katia says she has been overwhelmed by the kindness of her community. “Castle Hill High School and Castle Hill Public said whatever your children need for school we will supply you with, they were amazing.”
Hills Community Aid and the Hills Homeless Prevention Initiative which is funded by the Hills Winter Sleepout also helped with the rental bond needed for a house for the family. HCA’s Emergency Relief and Crisis Support fund as well as the Bridging the Gap programs also helped and co-ordinated a donation of beds and other items from Bella Vista company ResMed.
Michael Duncan, Commercial Operations Director (Australia and New Zealand) said ResMed were able to donate five single beds, tables and chairs which HCA had delivered.
Mr Duncan also presented the family with a $1000 voucher to spend on furniture for the house.
“As soon as we heard the family’s story we thought we needed to do something more,” he said.
As well as finding emergency accommodation Katia also had to find a place to teach her students, some of which were approaching exams.
“I am so grateful to Don Shields at Castle Hill Music and his wife Fran. He gave me a studio to use to teach from and his wife has baked us things and given the children toys. It’s heart-melting. They have been like parents to me,” she said.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency and school staff have also been a great support.
She said community people had also dropped in items and cards.
On top of planning a community thank you concert, Katia is the leading lady in La Traviata in Concert being held next year to raise money for Radiotherapy Scholarships.