The Robberstad family has a home for the holidays.
It’s a wonderful turn of events for the family of six, following a devastating house fire that left them homeless last week.
They should be moving into the house in the next day or so, Connie Robberstad said. And while it’s in need of a little work, it’s nothing a few good tradespeople and some elbow grease can’t fix.
“We have a place now, we just have to get some people together to clean it up,” she told the Observer on Monday.
“It’s just a lot of little things,” she said, like a constantly running bathtub.
The best thing is, the house is in the same rural Agassiz neighbourhood as their previous home. And while there weren’t many possessions left behind after the fire, there were several family pets.
“It’s not too far to get the animals,” Robberstad said. “There are places for the chickens and the pigs and the pony.”
The family was given three nights at a hotel for free, through Kent’s Emergency Social Services program. But when that ran out, they had to start paying $200 a night for a hotel.
Robberstad is thrilled at the idea of settling back in, and creating a home for their four children. And the community has stepped up to help in that regard. As soon as word got out that a local family had lost their house, donations began to pour into the children’s school, Kent elementary.
Principal Chris Wejr jumped in to help gather donations and communicate with the family to find out what they needed. The answer was ‘everything, — but there was nowhere to put it.
They needed a house.
That came with the help of Wendy Colman, yet another school district employee who is helping the family get back their feet.
“She has told us to make a wish list,” Robberstad said. “With her help, we can do this.”
The community support has been a comfort, she added. In addition to the clothing that has been collected for the family, Wejr started a fundraising page on FundRazr. On Monday afternoon, the total raised was sitting at about $2,500.
“It’s hard to believe,” Robberstad said. “That’s a lot of help from the community. It feels really good. It’s a really big burden off our shoulders, to know that the community is there for us.”
Robberstad’s husband, Bill Perry, was outside doing chores when a fire started in the home. When he opened the door to go inside, the flames erupted with the added oxygen. No one was hurt in the fire, including the family cats.
At the same time, Robberstad, an artist, was busy painting a seasonal picture in the window of Chilliwack’s Value Village.
“He said ‘sorry to bother you,’ and not to worry,” she said. He put her at ease and said he would take care of the fire department and get the kids from school, so that she could finish her work.
“I did most of the painting,” she said, and went back a few days later to finish. “It kind of helps to keep your mind busy.”
She’s really looking forward to settling in for the holidays, and hoping they’ll get the time for one of their favourite Christmas traditions.
“We’re just organizing our Christmas wreaths,” she said. “It’s something we do every year, and I’m hoping to have one craft day before Christmas. We usually give them as gifts to our friends.”
To help with the Robberstads this Christmas, visit the FundRazr page.