When Victoria Newstead told her brother they’ve been chosen as one of this year’s Extreme Home Repair (EHR) recipients, and that volunteers would be renovating their Brookswood home over a two-week period, his response was immediate and to the point.
A very private person, he wasn’t keen on the idea of having strangers converging on his home, doing work on the exterior and interior leading up to the big reveal on Victoria Day.
It took a bit of time for 47-year-old Newstead to convince her sibling, who is three years her junior and wishes to remain anonymous, to move out of the home, which will allow the volunteers to do their work.
Newstead said her brother has a variety of challenges but still manages to work part time. With the home, she says he “does quite well there, he needs certainty, he needs to have some stability and (then) he can function.”
Starting this Sunday, May 7, the mobile home where the siblings grew up will undergo a major transformation.
“When you help someone who is already vulnerable and you keep it in the family, that’s a huge deal,” Newstead said.
Pastor Mike Dauncey, who leads the EHR team, said these renovations come at a good time for the family. “It’s more than a mobile home for them, it’s a special place that’s been in the family for decades.”
Work will include:
• bathroom renovations;
• new flooring put in throughout the home;
• renovating the deck and putting a new covering over it;
• fixing the mould issues, and;
• installing four new windows to replace the mouldy ones.
This is the 14th year for EHR, a non-profit outreach organization run by the Aldergrove Adventist Church’s “Acts of Kindness” team (AOK).
Established in 2004, the Extreme Home Repair project annually transforms the home of a local individual or family facing difficult circumstances related to their housing and resources.
The project brings together over 200 volunteers, dozens of community-minded businesses, friends, family, and neighbours, to give the selected recipients a fresh start in a safe and comfortable environment.
In past years, most EHR recipients have been in Aldergrove; this year volunteers will focus on the home that Newstead’s brother has lived in his entire life.
Newstead said she is extremely thankful for the EHR team, adding that the program is held in high esteem in the community. “As soon as I say Acts of Kindness and as soon as I mention the church, I’d say 50 per cent of people have heard of them before.”
Both of the siblings’ parents are gone – their dad died 15 years ago in a dirt biking accident in the Baja Peninsula, and their mom passed away two years ago.
And, as the years went by, the home started to fall into some disrepair.
“It’s not actually that easy to find people to work on mobile homes, either,” Newstead shared. “So there had been some water damage from when the roof leaked. The roof stopped any water from coming in… but whatever damage had been done just got worse over the years.”
Mould is the biggest issue with the home. “There’s not enough room that can be occupied, so there are a couple of rooms that are out of commission, really,” Newstead said.
Newstead and her brother can thank her mom’s best friend, Madeleine Derappe, for nominating them for the 2017 EHR project.
“We still see her a couple times a week,” Newstead said. “She keeps tabs on us pretty good.”
When she found out they had been chosen, Newstead was shocked. “I literally read the message out loud on my phone and I said, ‘Oh my God, Madeleine has connected us with the church and they want to repair the house and my brother said, ‘No way.’”
“For my brother, having people in my house, is a big deal,” Newstead said. “I waited a day-and-a-half and we had dinner and I said, ‘Look, this is the situation.’ I explained it to him from the perspective of the other people in the park, who want the house (to be) nice, because it’s a very nice park.”
Newstead said this is a “lifetime home.”