VIDEO: South Surrey single mother overwhelmed by home renovation gift

Rachelle Seidel collapses to the ground after seeing her renovated home Sunday evening. (Aaron Hinks photo)
LifeApp human resources director Teresa Penner shows Rachelle Seidel her newly renovated home Sunday evening. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Rachelle Seidel walks into her newly renovated home for the first time with her children Sunday evening. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Rachelle Seidel jumps on her new couch for the first time. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Rachelle Seidel wipes away a tear while being comforted by her daughter and LifeApp human resources director Teresa Penner. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Rachelle Seidel receives a hug from her two friends Grace Ma (left), and Naomi Kragh. (Aaron Hinks photo)

About 40 volunteers lined a stretch of 17A Avenue in South Surrey Sunday evening, anticipating the arrival of Rachelle Seidel.

Seidel, a single mother of three who has led a “brutal life,” according to one of her lifelong friends, was expected to arrive any minute.

Exhausted, excited and emotional, the volunteers had just spent the last seven days renovating Seidel’s rented home. The team is part of the LifeApp charity, a Langley-based organization that co-ordinates home makeovers for people who need it the most.

Some of the volunteers took a week off work to help with the project, others logged 15-hour days, and some still had crusty paint splattered through their hair at the reveal. The undertaking was massive and the timeline was tight.

Seidel arrived and walked down the centre of the street with her children at her side. The volunteers cheered and clapped as she got closer to the house. She stopped in front of her home, but her view was obstructed by a cargo van.

On the count of three, the volunteers shouted, “Move that truck!”

As she got her first glimpse of the house, Seidel immediately fell to the ground in the middle of the street, overwhelmed with emotion. Her young children, friends, and project leaders rushed in to console her.

With a little help, she eventually got to her feet and rested her forehead on the shoulder of Naomi Kragh, one of her lifelong friends.

“You’re OK. You’re going to be just fine. All of these people love you so much,” Kragh said with her arms wrapped around Seidel.

After gathering herself, Seidel walked up to the house, not knowing what to expect. Seven days earlier, the home was battered, cluttered, and falling apart.

“Oh my god!” Seidel screamed as she entered the garage, which had been turned into a workout space.

She moved to the main part of the house, which is an open-concept, connecting the dining room, kitchen and living room.

With her hands over her mouth, she stood in silence for a few seconds, her eyes darting around the room.

“Wow, this is insane…. Oh my lord… I’m going to have a panic attack,” she said, clutching her chest.

She entered the living room and saw her new TV, fireplace, and couch.

“It’s a sectional!” she yelled, before jumping onto the couch. “I love sectionals.”

Every room, as well as the outside of the house, was renovated. After the tour, Seidel met the volunteers in her backyard.

“I’m shocked, I’m happy, I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m scared – that’s why my arms are crossed, I don’t know what to do – I’m back home again, which is really exciting,” Seidel said.

While Seidel says she doesn’t deserve such a gift, the people who love her, and know the challenges she’s faced, disagree.

“She’s the kind of person who runs around like crazy doing everything for everyone else,” Kragh said prior to Seidel seeing the renovation.

“And I’m like… it’s your time. If anyone deserves it, it’s you. She’s just had a brutal life. She’s had brutal circumstance, thing after thing after thing. She just deserves a break.”

SEE ALSO: A big ‘wow’ as Langley City couple sees how Acts Of Kindness renovated their home

The day after the home reveal, Seidel explained that her rocky road resulted in her moving seven times in three months, between friends’ houses and transition homes. Her challenge has been amplified with the raising of her three children, who have complex special needs.

“This whole process has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It really has been… It was one of the hardest things, and then having to put these kids above me. You’re supposed to put yourself first, but in this case, these kids don’t have a home right now. They don’t know where they’re going to be… It was complicated,” Seidel said of her experience.

Teresa Penner, the woman behind LifeApp, said Seidel was selected to be recipient of the project because “she was drowning and needed help.”

In addition to the renovation, Penner said LifeApp is providing long-term life-skills support after the project.

Every dollar donated to LifeApp goes back into the Langley and Surrey community. Significant donors of this most recent project include The Passionate Home, Benjamin Moore and Urban Presentations.

Learn more about the organization at https://www.lifeapp.ca/

Home ImprovementRenovationsSurrey

Just Posted

Participants in the 2019 Valley GranFondo wait for the starting signal in 2019. The event, which had to be called off because of the pandemic, is tentatively set to resume in 2022. (Langley Advance Times file)
No GranFondo cycling event in Fort Langley this year

Organizer hopes to be back for 2022

Shannon Todd Booth, the Langley Hospice Society communication and funds manager, with some of the ceramic hearts on sale at Saturday’s fundraiser at the Fort Langley Community Hall. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
First in-person fundraiser by Langley Hospice Society a success

For society volunteers and members of the Fraser Valley Potters Guild, it was a good day

Langley standup comedian Susan Thompson said the cost of her return-to-Canada quarantine in hotel was more than she made during a working trip to the U.S. (Canadian Press/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An expensive return home for Langley standup comedian

Susan Thompson scored work in Las Vegas, but a compulsory hotel COVID quarantine put her in the red

New Langley dining establishment The Barley Merchant was staffing up to open. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
With dining-in back on the menu, Langley restaurants are getting busy again

With the end of the ‘circuit breaker,’ staff are being hired and new looks are being unveiled

Langley teen Julia Kang has a new cross-trainer, thanks to the Sunshine Foundation charity (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley teen forced indoors by pandemic can still work out, thanks to donation

Charity makes dream of indoor cross-trainer come true

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Most Read