🔴 A house in a Jewish neighborhood in Manchester was set on fire as part of a hate crime

🔴 The owner of the under-construction house searched Google for a lawyer

🔴 Attorney Justin Lamb and wife Ashley brought together friends to help rebuild

MANCHESTER — Angel and Brenda Rivas bought property in the Pine Lake Park section of Manchester in 2017 after selling their business in order to buy a home for their two young daughters and Brenda's parents.

Those dreams went up in smoke when Ron Carr targeted the Jewish neighborhood on June 5 and vandalized 14 homes with swastikas, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer. He also torched the Rivas' home believing the Latino owners were Jewish, officials said.

Foundation of a Manchester house set on fire
Foundation of a Manchester house set on fire ( Jessica Cirz Photography)

A Google search gets help

Looking for help because he did not have insurance, Angel Rivas searched online for an attorney and came upon Justin Lamb, a Toms River councilman. After speaking on the phone, Justin and his wife Ashley met Angel with Manchester Mayor Rob Arace plus a couple of members from the Orthodox Jewish community and some local business owners. They all wanted to offer assistance to the Rivas to rebuild.

"We all kind of just looked at each other and at the same time we kind of agreed, 'we got to rebuild the house,'" Ashley Lamb, a school board member, said. "It was just happenstance that they Googled us and found us. We all are connected to each other, we heard the story. It just tugs at our heartstrings. We couldn't believe it, couldn't imagine ourselves in this situation."

The group agreed that they all know people who could help and the Rebuild RIVAS Pine Lake Park Coalition was born.

"People just came out of the woodwork and they said 'I'll help. I could do this or I could do that.' So within about 20 minutes, we had a photographer out there, Jessica Cirz Photography... We started sharing it out on social media," Ashley Lamb said.

A crew from Boulder Propane works at a Manchester home under construction destroyed by an arson fire
A crew from Boulder Propane works at a Manchester home under construction destroyed by an arson fire ( Jessica Cirz Photography)

A house comes together

Lamb said Boulder Propane had a skid steer and dumpsters delivered and Arace had public works put up a safety fence.

"When I tell you that the community has just rallied around this family, it really is beautiful to see people come together and just care about each other."

And that's just the beginning. Ashley said Habitat for Humanity, some churches and other groups are pledging to get involved with donations of lumber and framing," Ashley said. "We're just hoping that at the end of it, we can put together a house."

A GoFundMe page is accepting monetary donations, a wine tasting is planned for the Pine Lake Park clubhouse, and a booth will collect donations at the upcoming Manchester Days.

"There is light at the end of this tunnel, and the Rivas Family is on the way to rebuilding their dream," Ashley said.

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