NEWMAN, Ill. (WCIA) — Dozens gathered for a memorial service to remember a neighbor who died two weeks ago.
Shalonda Bailey lost her house in an explosion. Days later, she died.
“Not everybody’s family in Newman,” Staci Swink said. “But we treat each other like family, so when one of our family members hurt, we all hurt. We all come together, and we all help.”
There’s still no word on what caused the explosion.
People from around the community showed up at the Newman City Park to raise money for Bailey’s family as they go through the unthinkable.
“We would crack up, we would laugh, we would joke. She was a sweetheart,” Swink said.
Friends and family described Bailey as a good person.
“She was one heck of a cook,” Simpkins said. “She could put a smile on anyone’s face. I don’t care what type of bad day you were having, she had a radiant smile, was funny and always wanted to help people out.”
“I mean someone, we wanted someone to be able to look out for her and her family,” Swink said.
Now, neighbors want to help her family. Local businesses and community members held a benefit. People showed up to remember Bailey’s life.
“Anyone that knew her and even the people who didn’t know her, she was part of this community and that’s important,” Swink said.
On Oct. 9, Bailey’s home exploded. A neighbor we talked to then said Bailey had her stove on. Her house was destroyed, and her father’s house next door was damaged.
Bailey was airlifted to the hospital where she later died.
“She’s with us in spirit,” Swink said. “She is a guardian angel over her family, over this town.”
At the service, people could pay $5 to write messages of rememberance for the family.
Money raised will help her family pay for gas, food, and other expenses.
Simpkins said Newman was more than the place his mother lived.
“That’s part of the reason why she moved here in the first place,” Simpkins said, “to have that family feel that you know you’re right at home, you know everybody around you, you don’t know everybody, you build up a foundation with the people that’s around you.”
Simpkins said the support from the community has gone above and beyond.
“It’s just grateful for us to have this much support,” Simpkins said.
If you’re interested in donating, you can visit Longview Bank in Newman to make a donation until November 11.