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Whitestone civic group launches fundraiser to support victims of fire that devastated a local business

Apr. 3, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed

The We Love Whitestone Civic Association has launched a fundraiser to help support the victims of the devastating two-alarm fire that ripped through a three-story building on March 30. 

On March 30, the FDNY received a call at 5:30 p.m. regarding a fire at Q’s Moving Corp., a three-story building located at 149-16 14th Ave., not far from the FDNY Engine 295/Ladder 144 station house. Two firefighters, who were injured while battling the two-alarm fire, were taken to Flushing Hospital Medical Center. 

(Photo courtesy of Frank Macchio)

The building’s tenants — Thomas Cieslik and his wife Adriana, FDNY firefighter Shady Wesson, of Engine 299/Ladder 152, and Ana Serves — lost their belongings and beloved pets in the fire, according to Anastasia Q., of Q’s Moving Corp., who wrote a statement on Facebook April 1. 

“The We Love Whitestone Civic Association expresses our heartfelt sympathy for the victims of the tragic fire that struck our community,” the civic association wrote on the fundraiser page. “We offer our prayers for strength and peace during this difficult time. The loss of innocent and helpless animal lives is equally heartbreaking and we share in the grief of all affected by this tragedy. We stand together in solidarity and are committed to providing support and assistance in any way possible.”

To date, the civic group’s fundraiser has raised more than $600, with a goal of raising $5,000.

According to Alfredo Centola, president and founding member of the We Love Whitestone Civic Association, the group is planning to split the proceeds amongst the residential tenants who lost their homes.

In addition to the We Love Whitestone Civic’s fundraiser, two separate GoFundMe campaigns have been launched by individuals to support Cieslik and his wife, and Wesson, who lost his dog in the fire. 

“To see the fire just take everything away in a matter of minutes has left us totally heartbroken. We are working hard to keep the business up and running but the truth is we don’t know what the future of Q’s will hold,” Anastasia said. “We have a whole team of individuals counting on us to continue so they may provide for their own families. We have multiple businesses and families counting on us to provide service for them and their upcoming moving needs.”

In her statement, Anastasia recounted the moment the fire started to rapidly spread, while she was in the office with her father. They had tried to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, she said, but the fire moved quickly. 

Following the incident, Anastasia said she was “crushed” to learn that she had lost her cats, who were a “major part of the Q’s family.” 

“Whitestone is our home. I was raised here and it has been such an honor to serve the community, moving individuals, families, and businesses throughout,” Anastasia said. “My parents started this business from the ground up, literally, in our Whitestone home basement over 15 years ago. I vividly remember the day my dad excitedly sat my three siblings and I around the dining room table like ‘Kids, what should we name it [the business]?’ He didn’t know exactly how he was gonna make it happen but he knew why he had to make it happen. He had four hungry mouths to feed and helping other families move and begin anew brought him great joy and purpose.”

Firefighters at the scene of a two-alarm fire in Whitestone on March 30, according to the FDNY. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

As they work hard to get back on their feet, Anastasia extended deep gratitude for everyone’s concern, support and prayers, including the FDNY and NYPD personnel who showed up to the scene. 

“Thankfully, no one was critically injured and it is things like this that remind us that, at the end of the day, not much matters but our health, safety and our moments to be present and share love with one another,” Anastasia said. 

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