“When you call somebody a hero it has a nice ring to it, but my mama always said when somebody needs help you have to help them,” Miller Jenkins said after being honored.
Jenkins, 22, and Felande Ross, 19, entered a burning home at 3620 Meadowgrove Drive several times Aug. 6 looking for the 4-year-old girl they heard was inside.
Ross, who lives across the street, had been alerted to the fire by the girl’s two siblings, ages 7 and 9, who fled the burning house about 3 a.m. seeking help.
Jenkins, who does not live nearby, was in the area and heard calls for help. He said he was in the neighborhood because “something just told me to go.”
After the girl was pulled to safety, Ross continued to enter the home searching for the child’s father, 42-year-old Saxon Washington, until he was forced out by the collapsing roof. He then tried to attack the fire from the outside with a hose until firefighters could arrive.
Washington’s body was later recovered in the kitchen. Investigators said the fire most likely started on the stove.
Louise Aronow, the founder and president of Career Personnel, shared a Jewish proverb with the two men before handing them checks and plaques: A person who has saved a life has saved an entire universe.
“You young men are heroes not only in the community, but I know you’ve made your family very happy,” she said.
Ron Aronow, the vice president of Career Personnel, said the Broad Street business decided to honor the men after seeing an article on their heroic acts in The Augusta Chronicle.
He said it’s important for them to feel the support of the community.
Ross was awarded $500 and Jenkins $250. Career Personnel is also working with both men to find employment.
Ross said he recently had the chance to play with 4-year-old Destiny Washington, and what he had done sank in.
“It felt great,” he said. “I’m just grateful I did a great thing.”