Two brothers struck by lightning while camping out on Mount Diablo after losing their Oakland home to foreclosure have found better luck because of help from readers of their story.
More than 130 donors have contributed a total of $10,570 to a fund to help Alfred and George Janske and their three dogs find permanent housing and stability.
Residents in their old Glenview neighborhood in Oakland also raised an additional $920 with a one-day bake sale, and other donors have contributed a computer, an iPhone and other items.
While the brothers live in a hotel and Alfred Janske still looks for work as an accountant, things are looking up since April 12 when they were camping out in Mt. Diablo State Park in Danville and a lightning ricochet hit them in their tent.
"I'm gratified by this unexpected help. It's astonishing," said Alfred Janske, 59, who is two years older than his developmentally disabled brother, George. "It takes a long time to get out of a really deep hole, but things are a lot different."
The brothers are still living in a low-cost Richmond motel, but they plan later this week to move to a vacant East Oakland home and act as temporary caretakers under a deal worked out with a real estate agent.
The relief came after some neighbors and friends read of their plight in a Bay Area News Group report and stepped up to organize efforts to help.
"It shows how people are willing to help when they need to," said Heather Reloj, a Glenview resident who is helping coordinate the relief efforts. "A lot of people are giving because they feel this could happen to anybody in these trying economic times."
One donor gave $1,000.
Some donors know the brothers, but many others are strangers who gave money with simple wishes like, "I am pleased to be able to help them," Reloj said.
A law firm has pledged to donate the legal services to set up a trust fund allowing a neutral party to manage the donated funds to serve the long-term interests of the brothers, Reloj said. And an Oakland service station has donated the labor to fix up the brothers' old truck. The brothers were shaken but not seriously injured by the lightning that burned holes in their tent and left them with temporary numbness in parts of their bodies.
Alfred Janske was attending a résumé writing and job hunting class Monday when he took time for a call to express his appreciation.
"It's been very difficult," he said, "but things are better."
A fundraiser with food and music to benefit the Janske brothers will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Pacific Coast Brewery, 906 Washington St., Oakland. A portion of sales will be contributed to a fund for the brothers. Contributions may be made online at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/0IW27.