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Heartland News Destroyed By Arson

Jake Wasikowski

Heartland News Destroyed By Arson

By Jake Wasikowski. CREATED Feb 6, 2013

A huge setback for a newspaper created to help the homeless because of arson.  Also, the man trying to help the homeless is now homeless himself.

OFD crews responded to a fire at 62nd & Ames Ave. at around 2:00am Wednesday morning.  They brought it under control in 15 minutes, but the area where the Heartland News operates, was heavily damaged.  Investigators say someone intentionally set the fire.

The Heartland News is a non-profit that tries to get the homeless out of poverty.  They're hired to sell papers that deal with local and national homeless issues instead of panhandling.  President of the Heartland News, M.A. Yah, says he lives upstairs but wasn't there when the fire started.

"The predicament that I was trying to help people get out of and now I'm in that predicament,” M.A. Yah explained. "It's a blow from last night being president of the company with a roof over my head to wake up now and I'm homeless and unemployed."

But M.A. Yah says he is most concerned for the people, he says, he's letting down.  The heartland news has hired 25-40 homeless people over the last few years to get them out of poverty.  They're now circulating 3-5,000 newspapers a month in Omaha, Council Bluffs, and elsewhere.

"It seems like it might be harder now because we're starting all over again, but like I said the main thing was giving those people the hope that they're going to be around and you can make it through the Heartland News,” he described.

M.A. Yah is glad he could save much of his writings when he taught himself to read and write while in prison many years ago.  He now creates the stories for the Heartland Newspaper about poverty, and will get the next issue published somehow.

"If I gave up now and let the Heartland News just die then all their dreams and hopes and all my dreams and hopes are dead too, I can't let that happen," he concluded.

Investigators say it’s too early to reveal many details on this arson, they did say there are no arrests yet.

The American Red Cross has responded to help.  If you would like to help the Heartland News you can call 402-208-7533, or email elephantman77@live.com.  They've also set up a fund under "Heartland News Benefit" at any Metro Credit Union location.