Story by Brianna Willis, Staff writer
When Shy’Ana Meriwether, senior from Louisville, Kentucky, stepped outside of her class to take a phone call, she said she witnessed a young woman in distress. When she asked her what was wrong, Meriwether said the other student, Sarah McCorry, informed her that her friend Jennifer Bomar’s house had just burned to the ground.
“I began to look for her friend’s belongings and directed Sarah to the tech person to try and locate her friends belongings,” Meriwether said.
Meriwether said that she asked McCorry if Bomar had any children, something Meriwether was concerned about, she said, as she is a mother of a 15–month–old boy.
“I couldn’t help but to think how Jennifer was going to tell her babies that they had no place to go or having to figure out how to replace everything that was lost. Not just for her babies but for herself as well,” she said.
Meriwether said she was raised to understand a degree is valuable and said she didn’t want this tragedy to be a setback for Bomar.
“I knew I needed to step up and help in anyway that I could to help Jennifer rebuild a foundation for her family, and to continue furthering her education,” Meriwether said.
Meriwether said she took it upon herself to try and help Bomar in any way she could. She started a “youcaring.com” page, a fundraising website, and put out an all-call for donations of both monetary and physical items.
Bomar said the response has been awesome and immediate.
“I can’t thank everyone enough,” she said. “There are so many people who I don’t know and who don’t know me, and I just want to say thank you.”
Bomar, mother of nine, said that the outpouring of support from Murray State and neighboring communities has made this time easier for her.
“I still can’t stop thinking about what would have happened if the fire had happened an hour earlier, if everyone had been home,” she said.
April Sargent, from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, said she felt a connection to Bomar. She donated on Meriwether’s fundraising page, but chose not to disclose how much she donated on the site. Sargent said she didn’t want to disclose the amount because it is the thought that counts, and whatever she could do to help she wanted to do.
“All of the tangible things can be replaced, but a person cannot,” Sargent said.
Sargent credits her involvement in her social work department with her finding out about Bomar. She said if she hadn’t taken time to get to know her classmates and get involved on campus, she may never have heard of Bomar and her tragedy.
“Always start with your community,” Sargent said. “With all of today’s technological distractions we forget to just talk to people and get involved.”
Meriwether also said that if students want to help others in their community, the best place to start is by putting themselves in the shoes of those in need, allowing people to see things from another perspective and find that passion to help others.
Donations are being accepted in the third floor office of the Curris Center.
“Jennifer Bomar is a selfless and intelligent woman who is trying to make a way for her children,” Meriwether said. “People can help in anyway they can.”
Bomar has advice for any students who may be facing tragedy and loss themselves.
“Take it one day at a time,” she said. “And remember, it is going to be OK.”