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There’s No Place Like Home

Home is a shelter from storms – all sorts of storms – William J. Bennett

For many of us, home is more than just a place where you live. It is a safe haven, a place that you can call your own, that bears the mark of who you are. For four people who have shared a Communitas home for the last several years, their home was their happy place.

Residential support worker, Josh, was on hand on the day the pipes burst, which mean Robert and Howie and their room mates had to move out temporarily

Then, last December, the freezing weather caused some pipes in their house to burst, forcing Howie, Robert, Debbie, and Estefani to leave the safe shelter they called home. Jennifer White manages the home where they live. She was new to this home when the pipes burst.

“I had just started as manager when it happened so I was very grateful for our experienced staff who helped get everyone out,” Jennifer says. “They were amazing.”

As staff got the water turned off, moved the four residents of the home to safety, and started mopping up floors, Jennifer called Arny Froese, the maintenance manager for Communitas. He immediately arranged for all the equipment they’d need to continue with the cleanup. It became clear quite quickly that enough damage had been done that the home would not be livable for a while, so Arny also came up with a temporary housing solution.

“One of our other homes had just been vacated,” Arny says. “It was great timing because it gave us a place for the residents to live while we dealt with the cleanup and repairs.”

Arrangements were made for beds, furniture, and other necessities to be moved to the temporary home and by that evening, it was ready to welcome the four displaced people and the staff who continued to care for them.

“At first it felt like a little vacation and they told us that we’d probably be back in a few days,” Jennifer remembers. “Then they said a few more days. Then a few weeks.”

The delays could not be helped given that restoration companies, assessors, and needed trades people were still responding to Sumas flood mitigation. But since another home was empty and able to accommodate everyone, it became the perfect opportunity to do other renovations that had been waiting to get done. A new roll-in shower was put in and some rooms were repainted. All in, it turned out to be just over two months.

When Howie, Robert, Debbie, and Estefani were able to return back home, they were overjoyed. Each person’s room is furnished and decorated in a way that reflects their choices and personality.

Howie has a big bright room with a large window overlooking the garden.

“It’s so good to be in my home again,” Howie says as he proudly shows off his restored room. “I even got a new bathroom!”

Robert is also very happy. His room has a little fireplace and his walls are covered with photos of family.

“I love my room with all my pictures and my own TV,” he says with a smile.

Estefani’s room got a new coat of paint and she chose her favourite colour: pink. The bright colours on her bedding and wall art reflect her bright personality.

Debbie is back in her room, seen here with manager Jennifer (left) and residential support worker, Brayanna

Debbie has been with Communitas for three decades and has lived in a few different Communitas homes. Her room reflects her loving family with photographs of family times together. She even has framed photos of herself as a baby hanging on the walls.

Even staff are excited to be back on familiar ground. While they are grateful that their safety plans worked and that they were able to have a warm and safe place to stay while the house was being repaired, it just wasn’t the same.

“We are all so happy to be back,” says Jennifer. “There really is no place like home.”

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