Susan Prows, Kim Warner and Flynn McEchron are leading a group of Beaumont neighbors in an effort to raise funds and provide support for the family of a neighborhood shop owner who was badly injured during a robbery at his store.
Shortly before closing on Monday, September 14, the Everest M Market at 3734 N.E. 42nd Ave. was robbed by two masked gunmen. During the robbery, the owner of the store, Keshab Maharjan, was beaten and suffered an orbital fracture. He had to have emergency surgery to save his eyesight and has since had two additional surgeries to repair the damage.
Maharjan may require more surgery down the road and, until he is able to work again, his wife Gyani has been running the store by herself. She has shortened the store’s hours, and closes most days by 9:00 p.m., but is still working 12-hour shifts seven days a week. The Maharjans have several young children. The oldest is a freshman at Grant. The Maharjans bought the run-down store two and a half years ago and have built strong community ties as they’ve worked hard to improve the space and established a solid reputation for their tireless service to the neighborhood.
“I live about two blocks from the market and I go to there a couple of times a week,” said Prows. “They’ve always been very friendly and I really appreciate all the improvements they have made. The store is a real asset to the neighborhood. When Kim Warner told me about the robbery, we both knew we needed to do something to help. So we talked to Giyani and asked her if it would be all right if we did some fund-raising to help with expenses.”
“Giyani’s English is somewhat limited,” said Prows. “She referred us to her brother-in-law, Dawakir, and we met with him and told him that we wanted to help out in any way that we could.”
Dawakir Maharjan, or “Master Dan” is well known in the neighborhood as owner and coach at the USWC Taekwondo School in Hollywood. He is currently in Nepal leading a relief effort for victims of the April 2015 earthquake.
The neighbors, who call their group “Community Climb,” launched a GoFundMe page in late September and in less than a month have raised over $18,00 from more than 400 contributing neighbors.
“We are absolutely blown away by the response of our community,” said Prows. “The family is so grateful for everything that has been done. We are raising the goal because so many people want to help – and the bills are already arriving from the hospital. With three surgeries already, and Keshab still being unable to work, the need of the family has increased, so we are raising our goal to $29,029 – which is the elevation of Mt. Everest. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far, and offered support in so many different ways!”
In addition to fundraising, the group has launched a neighborhood watch effort they call “Everest Watch” to provide Giyani with some measure of comfort during her long and lonely evenings in the store. Every evening, from dusk until closing time, a group of neighbors coordinated by Community Climb gathers at a picnic table in front of the store and chats or plays cards until it’s time for Giyani to close up shop and head home.
“We knew that Giyani was very frightened to be in the store by herself at night, so we came up with the idea of just having people sit outside the store,” said Prows. “We didn’t want to interfere with her business, but we wanted her to feel safer.”
“It’s been a great experience for us to share in and it’s helped us to grow closer as a community,” said Warner. “I’ve met neighbors who lived behind me that I didn’t really know – and I’ve met some great folks from the Blackbird Wine shop. We have a great time and we all share in the desire to help the Maharjan family pull through this.”
“Our hope is to keep it going until Keshab is able to work again – and maybe a couple of weeks after that,” said Warner. “It will be harder for us to do as the weather turns and it starts to get cold and wet, but we are committed. We have a tent that we can pull out when it gets really bad.”
For more information, to contribute to the cause or to volunteer for a shift, you can visit the group’s GoFundMe page and Facebook page. The Facebook page is frequently updated with details on shift availability. You can also email the group at moc.o1516715101ohay@1516715101bmilc1516715101ytinu1516715101mmoc1516715101.