AHS Leaders Ben Sunagel, Steve Saucier and Jen Tarini present a check to Sarah Loughnane after the family’s fire loss. Photo by John R. Anderson


Sarah Louchnane had planned a summer at her fiancée’s Worcester family home and then a return to Auburn where her daughter Alexia Thibodeaux was due to start her freshman year at Auburn High School. That all changed on June 19th when his Vernon Hill triple-decker caught on fire. High winds fanned the flames and the house was destroyed along with all of the family’s possessions and five cats.

Since June, housing and clothing has become an issue, but the family received tremendous support from Auburn Youth and Family Services. And, while a permanent home is not yet in sight, Alexia has been added to her grandmother’s lease at Kateri Senior Housing so her educational plans could continue without interruption. With the first third of her freshman year under her belt, Alexia enjoyed a great season as a J.V. Field Hockey player and some challenging courses. She has spent nearly all of her educational time in Auburn Public Schools, and the family’s desire is to find another local address.

A random conversation between Sarah and Athletic Director Brian Davis led to action by the Auburn High School Leadership Team. Initially assembled by Davis to develop team captains, the team has expanded to non-athletes and tries to fill some community needs. Last year, a cross-country race was held to raise funds to assist AHS graduate Nicole Berthiaume who lost an arm in a tragic boating accident. This year, Sarah and Alexia were on the team’s minds.

Seniors Steve Saucier and Ben Sunagel along with junior Jennifer Tarini met at the high school with Sarah Loughnane on Wednesday evening and presented her with a check for $500 to help the family get through the holiday season. Davis and advisors Kathleen Lutz and Lionel Berthiaume were also present.

Sarah commented, “The support is great and we needed it. I hope you feel good about yourselves.” The Auburn community certainly does. Great effort!