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BY KIRA WRONSKA DORWARD
The DJ is playing eighties hits, and Amanda Wallace and Ashley Burns' children are dancing in front of the raffle prizes table. It's Saturday night at Sammy's Grill in Bolton, and fifty people have turned out to support the victims of March's flood.
Aside from raffle tickets, Wallace and Burns and their children are by the front doors collecting money for a 50/50 draw to take place at the end of the night. Though neither women live in Bolton, the two sisters' father, Mike Wallace, step-mother, Tracey Lehman, step-sister and niece were all forced from their home as flood-waters did forty-thousand dollars-worth of damage to the shared house. Katie and her daughter, who lived in a basement apartment, are still unable to return home as the flooding completely destroyed not just their living space and belongings, but their peace of mind.
“The flooding has affected myself and my four-year-old daughter greatly,” says Katie Lehman. “I am a single mother already trying make ends meet sometimes, and for everything that I have saved and purchased over the past three years [to be] just gone is devastating. That is just the material things. Mentally, the day my daughter and I came [back] to the house (two days after evacuation) my emotions were still very high, and my daughter's reaction to not having a home was absolutely heart-wrenching…When I told her that everything was gone and we couldn't live there anymore my daughter was in shambles on the floor screaming and crying and this went on for two whole hours of inconsolable tears.
We are slowly moving forward, but we are still living day by day. I am currently living in my mother's house, in a very small bedroom shared with my daughter. Our sleeping arrangements are a single bunk bed. It was my full two-bedroom apartment in the basement that was destroyed, that is now having to be rebuilt from the cinderblocks and concrete up…by the end of July I should be able to return to my own home…we have never dealt with anything like this in the fourteen years that we have lived here.”
“We know that there were a lot of families affected as well as ours, so I just thought, what better way to help out,” says Wallace. “I live an hour away, so there's not much I could do, and this was a way I could contribute.”
The sisters did everything to organize the fundraiser, from approaching local businesses for donations for the raffle to organizing the event itself. “I think I felt like, instead of making a donation, I could make a bigger contribution while bringing our community together,” comments Burns.
Using social media and their local contacts to get the word out, Wallace says, of the response “it was actually quite over-whelming. My Facebook message inbox was blowing up with people wanting to donate raffle prizes, so that was a nice surprise.”
The sisters would like to thank Caption Audio, Crystal's Lushes Lashes, S & F Automotive, Umbra, Origami Owl, and Inside Out Chiropractic who donated significant prizes to the raffle contest.
Sammy of Sammy's Grill was also a great help to the girls, he “didn't hesitate [when we called him].…he worked with us, he's been here all day working with us, the staff helped us set up…”
The entire location was taken over for the night's event, with those in attendance bringing an assortment of food for a delicious pot-luck. Janette Cochran was the winner of $150 from the 50/50 draw, which she donated back to the funds for residents.
All in all, $1, 213 was raised that night, all of it going towards the GoFundMe goal of $20, 000. As of now, the current tally is at $5, 028 after one month of donations. “On behalf of the families affected we would like to thank everyone for their generosity,” reads the GoFundMe page organized by Mira Budd. “Although it's a month later and most of the families with no flood insurance are only a quarter way through all that has to be done to get their life back in order these funds are making a great difference.”
Although some families will be receiving some insurance payout and disaster relief from the province, it is nowhere near enough to cover the costs of the damages to property and homes. “There's really no help at all,” concludes Burns of the provincial relief. “Hopefully, we'll see some people coming back and settling back down in the next few months.”
“Hopefully they can come out of this,” adds Wallace. “It would be nice to see everyone come together as a community and donate.”
Of thoughts for the future, Wallace adds, “I would like to see a better process put in place, preventing something like this [from] happening again.”
To donate, please visit the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme/bolton-flood-residents-fund. To donate furniture and personal items, please contact Annette Groves or Tony Rosa at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com respectively.
Post date: 2019-05-02 11:52:45
Post date GMT: 2019-05-02 15:52:45
Post modified date: 2019-05-02 12:25:13
Post modified date GMT: 2019-05-02 16:25:13
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