Monday, August 29, 2016

Powering up Communications for Displaced Silver Spring Residents

Written by: Brigitte Yuille, volunteer

Mike Goodwin is use to getting a variety of unique requests for his business that require a great deal of decision-making. As General Manager of Shepard Exposition Services, he works with associations, companies and private individuals in need of general contractors. His team decorates convention centers and the halls of hotels with items like registration tables and poster boards for trade shows and other special events.

However, one day he checked his phone messages and received a rare request. One of the company’s clients reached out asking for a mobile device charging station, but it was not intended for another trade show or special event. Instead, the charging station would power up mobile devices for around 100 people recently displaced from their homes in Silver Spring, MD.

Just before midnight on August 11, a powerful explosion and fire ripped through the Flower Branch Apartment Complex. Some residents fled their homes while others were rescued by neighbors, firefighters and police. Some 31 people had to be rushed to hospitals. Besides physical injuries, many more residents were emotionally devastated. The sudden loss left people stunned. They were desperately seeking ways to put their lives back together and to find a sense of normalcy.

Goodwin had heard about the apartment fire from the local news. “I thought it was an extremely scary situation,” he said. “My thoughts and heart immediately went out to the families that were directly affected by the event. Something of that magnitude that would happen without any prior notification would be scary. For anybody, and for myself having children and a family of my own, it would be devastating for an explosion like that to happen and then to lose everything.”

Goodwin had a charging station that wasn’t going to be used for the next couple of weeks. He realized he could lend the station to the Long Branch Community Center, where the residents were staying. Lending the item wouldn’t add too much stress to the business, and it would help fulfill the Center’s need. It was an easy decision to make, he quickly concluded.

“It made perfect sense,” Goodwin said, “there can only be so many [electrical] outlets.” He thought about the living arrangements in the community center, and he understood that they would need to contact the outside world.

Shepard Exposition Services is a nationwide company, but staff members within a branch often try to help local communities, Goodwin explained. “When the need arises, and there is an opportunity to show that we are in the community and we care, we will lend our support,” he said.

Goodwin instructed his crew to load up the truck and deliver the charging station within 24 hours.

Thank you so much to Mike Goodwin, Shepard Exposition Services and all of our community partners for providing comfort and hope to those who stayed at the Silver Spring shelter. For more ways to help visit

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