Love and community support from friends and strangers are helping a Spallumcheen family displaced by fire.
Joel Maddigan, his wife, Erin, and their three children lost their family home and all possessions when fire broke out on their Hutley Road South residence just after 5 a.m. June 9.
Heat and smoke woke up Joel, who was sleeping in the master bedroom at the opposite end of the home from where the fire started. His two daughters shared a bedroom that was between the parents’ bedroom and the fire. Joel and Erin, to their extended family’s relief, were able to mobilize and save their loved ones from smoke asphyxiation or harm.
Joel’s uncle, Errol Batchelor, on behalf of the entire family, appealed to the community for help and support through a GoFundMe campaign to help the Maddigans. Close to $17,000 had been donated as of Tuesday, June 20.
“I am happy to report that as of last Friday, June 16, the transfer of the GoFundMe donations started being transferred directly into Joel and Erin’s shared bank account,” said Batchelor.
“In addition to this, Joel and Erin were blessed by a family in Armstrong who heard of their plight and made available a fully furnished house for two months while they search for permanent accommodations.”
Through a community support program, the Maddigans were provided three nights free stay at a Vernon hotel. Their focus has been lowering their children’s stress level and to replace the basic day-to-day personal care items lost in the fire, and some required clothing items.
The family has been overwhelmed by the community’s generosity.
“There are no words enough to express our heartfelt gratitude for the support we have received this past week,” said Erin. “Waking up to a house fire was the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced. Getting everyone out safely was the only thing that mattered. There will be lasting trauma for all of us but it will soften over time.
“What will stay with me forever is the compassion and generosity shown to our family by the wonderful community of Armstrong, our extended family, friends, coworkers and complete strangers. We are truly humbled by this experience and my heart has been stretched by the love we have felt.
“It will take time to put the pieces of our lives back together but I am looking fondly down the road to when we are able to give back again as my capacity to serve has grown tenfold. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the kindness you have shown, I don’t know where we would be without you.”