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Mother of woman injured in weekend fire calls for people to help the homeless

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:25 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Janice Brooks-Searcy said drug addiction is what lead her daughter Rashawn Brooks to be on the streets for the last four years.

She said Rashawn was close to moving out of Inward Faith Ministries where she’d been living for the last two months.

“I do know my daughter was coming home I just got another house a bigger house for her to have her own room I just came over here Saturday to pick up her belongings,” Brooks-Searcy said Tuesday.

“We always tried to be there for her mentally, spiritually, anyway that we possibly could it was just this drug addiction.”

Brooks-Searcy, who had known her daughter was staying the church believed being in a church helped Rashawn make progress.

“We are church-oriented, it could be that, Shawn, we love church, we’d go to church all the time and I do know in my heart that it was helping her actually because they had books in there that she was reading,” she recounted.

“I know them books was helping her and I know they were giving my baby the power to come home to move back home to get off the streets to get better.”

However, Janice said there was an incident involving drugs on Sunday that stopped Rashawn from leaving and that night she was found injured in what was described by Topeka fire officials as a “warming fire” at the church.

When Janice learned how serious Rashawn’s injuries were she wanted to fulfill a promise she made to her daughter.

“I would send a message, I would at least try and I’m going to continue to try as long as I got strength and breath in my body, these homeless people need somewhere to go they need somewhere to go this is a cry else to help right now as a mother that lost her child to homelessness,” she said.

“She had a drug addiction and there was nowhere for her to get the help they don’t have no money to pay for drug counseling they don’t have no money to pay for anything.”

She hopes outsiders can take one thing away from the weekend’s events.

“Learn,” she said.

“I know there are people living in abandoned buildings, I know they don’t have anywhere to go, I know it’s wrong for you to call and I know some people might feel a certain way because these people have nowhere to go but that call may save their life.”

Janice said Rashawn’s injuries have left her brain dead and she will be taken off life support and hopes her daughter can be remembered by her caring spirit.

“She was just the sweetest she helped everybody she could,” she said.

“My baby had been through a lot she would never have a frown on her face she would always come to you cheerful very cheerful like the sun and that was her, the sunshine.”

Brooks died from carbon monoxide poisoning to her brain and smoke inhalation late Tuesday night.

The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with her final arrangements.

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