A thank-you to our community

On February 26th my family’s house caught fire. This was a devastating night for us. Our comfy little home was quickly determined to be a total loss. For anyone who has ever suffered this scary moment, and the weeks and months that follow, my heart goes out to you. It has been a very sad time for us.

Millstone file photo

But at the same time, this past month has shown us so many good things as well. Besides learning a lesson on how quickly all the things we hold dear can be taken from us we also learned how truly lucky we are to live in the town that we do. I am a bit of a shy person and my connections to Almonte are only 15 years young. I do not have extended family nearby but have made some of the sweetest friends here, friends I really do consider family and the length that they, and strangers went to, to keep my children and I safe and warm and fed during this difficult time has been nothing short of amazing.

You know who you are, and so do I, so I won’t publish your names, but let me list in gratitude the just some of the many kindnesses we have received:

  • The firemen who arrived at my home. Thank you for getting there so quickly. For keeping me informed and calm and risking your life to try and save my home and my belongings. You are the most brave and wonderful people. To the one in particular who went back into black smoke to save our beloved little pet with your bare hands, you are my daughter’s hero. He is fine, by the way, and you saved me a terrible conversation. SD you are a very good man.
  • To Almonte Veterinary Services who used a charitable fund to cover a bath, checkup and medicine for our pet, twice, you are angels. You will be also be forever tops on my list for donations. If you have a dog, get his/ her nails clipped here, your $10 makes a huge difference and is well spent. Thank you. As J at the desk told me, “pay it forward”. We will.
  • To PetValu who knew our pet and love him too, thank you for digging through the back room to find us the perfect new cage and all the things we needed to set up his new digs, and offering us a discount on top of that. Your generosity was very appreciated.
  • To my friends who came to my rescue, in a hundred different ways. To those who sat in my car with me to watch the whole terrible night unfold, gave me warm clothes and took my pet home with you. Thank you. To my rock who met me in her pajamas at 7am to go back in the house and look at the damage and have my cry before my kids came home. You have always had my back. Thank you. To our friends who took our pet for weeks when he wasn’t at his best. You gave him medicine and cuddles when we could not and opened your doors to us even when you were sick, to share meals and let us visit him. You have the biggest hearts and the patience of saints. To you, who gave me furniture from your own home. Called and texted offers of help and support daily, to you who moved things in trucks and up and down my stairs, took my kids places to distract and entertain them, helped me put furniture together, stored the bins of laundry as I did them, had us to your homes for meals, and made us meals and delivered them to us, you can’t know how loved this has made us feel. It is hard for me to ask for this help, and you made sure I didn’t have to.
  • To the special neighbours who spent days afterwards checking on me as I sifted through the rubble and made me tea and gave me sandwiches. Your gift from the HUB to help us through the first weeks was well spent on things we needed right away. Thank you. Please please everyone, support the HUB. They make a difference.
  • To the innkeeper who took a soot covered stranger into his lovely inn, dragging her luggage in laundry bins with two teenagers behind her, making us feel welcome for ten long days while we sorted out a place to live, thank you. You were more than generous.
  • To the Hillside Church who gave to strangers in need. My friends who belong to your congregation are the true definition of kindness and generosity. Your donation helped us back on our feet, and their hospitality and continued support are testament to your faith.
  • To Almonte and District High School: You have been so so good to us. The thoughtfulness of the staff and the support you have shown us with your phonecalls, clothing donations, anonymous cash donations, and just really being there for the kids, and for me, continues to give us great strength and a sense of belonging. You have shown your students by your actions what a a huge difference being part of a supportive community can make in someone’s life. Thank you to the moon and back. You have taught me a lot about the team we are.
  • To the family of one of my children’s friends who gave us a gift certificate to enjoy dinner at one of the most beautiful restaurants in Almonte, thank you. What a treat for us. You were so sweet to think of us.
  • To all the realtors and property managers and a very special funeral director / neighbour who worked hard to find me a fast rental in a very low vacancy rate market in the days following the fire, thank you. Your genuine concern for getting a roof over our heads was so helpful.
  • To our dear new landlords, who rushed to finish renovations on their property to get us into our rental weeks ahead of what you’d planned for. You opened your hearts to us in a desperate time, knowing nothing about us but our story, and gave us a place to call home. The work you put in to make this all line up for us, strangers to you a month ago, does not escape me. And to leave us a gift upon moving in? We are the ones that should be giving the gifts. You have been so generous to us. Thank you.

I am so grateful now, that we took a chance betting on this little town as a good place to raise our family so many years ago. It’s quite powerful to see what can be accomplished when a little town rallies for their people.

Thank you Almonte.

Tricia Charles