A familiar feeling washed over Murrayville pastor Paul Olson upon hearing news that dozens of tenants lost their homes in a Langley City condominium fire July 17.
In his former role as head pastor at Burnett Fellowship, a blaze at Sunrise Apartments in Maple Ridge saw a similar fate encumber hundreds in 2015.
“People were scrambling to find shelter,” Olson recalled.
“One woman was bathing her baby and left the building with just the clothes on her back.”
RELATED: A close call at Sunrise Apartments
Following the blaze, Burnett Fellowship became responsible for funneling community donations to help displaced tenants get back on their feet.
“That’s why when this one happened [in Langley] it was almost like deja vu,” Olson said.
Church leadership of SouthRidge Fellowship, where Olson is currently an executive pastor, sprung into action.
“Being part of the Langley community means loving its people when they’re going through tough times,” the pastor maintained.
‘What do you need?’
“We just said [to Madison Place families]: What do you need?” related Olson.
It started with $10,000 in Superstore gift cards, which are being divvied up amongst individuals and families, still displaced, four weeks after the gutting fire.
“We tried to find a place where people could not only purchase food, but clothing, home wares, and medications from a pharmacy – all of that stuff,” Olson said.
Individuals are given $200 in vouchers each time they visit the Murrayville church. Families with children are given upwards of $700.
“We see people come in every day to pick them up,” said Olson, who has gotten to know many of the tenants.
Some of them have no insurance, he mourned.
“They could very well be left with nothing.”
To ensure the gift cards go to the right people, the pastor corroborates names of tenants with Madison Place’s property manager.
“She verifies everybody who comes forward,” Olson assured.
SouthRidge Fellowship’s kindness has also inspired two other Langley churches – North Langley Community Church and Mountainview Alliance Church – to each come forward with $2,000 for the fire victims.
“We’re going to keep giving until the money runs out,” Olson said about the now-$14,000 fund.
Today we will be praying for the families that were affected by the Langley apartment fire.
Our church wants to give…