An act of kindness
by Lilianne Fuller
A cool spring rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of approximately 75 people on hand to witness the reveal of an extreme makeover of a home in Aldergrove. Ledell Kendall and her son Francis were the recipients of this year’s Church in the Valley’s AOK (Acts Of Kindness) program.
Kendall, a single mother to a special needs child works as a nursing assistant at Langley Memorial Hospital. Her son Francis was born with autism and a rare disorder –moebius syndrome- where cranial nerves related to proper facial expressions are missing. She was nominated by her sister Evon Hardy of Kamloops. “My sister works very hard and takes great pride in her job. She stretches every dollar. Caring for her son and working to pay for food, household expenses and car repairs leaves little extra towards home maintenance. Knowing that she has a safe, comfortable place would mean the world to her,” Hardy said in her application.
Modeled on the now defunct ABC television show, Extreme Makeover – Home Edition, the 900 square foot rancher was one of the smaller projects undertaken in the 16 years since AOK’s Extreme Makeover has been in operation. It would cost an estimated $100,000 to complete a home renovation of this magnitude but thanks to the generosity of 85 sponsors and a small army of volunteers, the project actually cost AOK between $12,000 and $15,000.
Kendall and her husband purchased the 1960’s era home 18 years earlier and their son arrived two years later. Unfortunately, he left a year ago and between caring for her son and working to support the family, she was unable to do much of the maintenance on the home and property. It required so much work that it became what she termed as an ‘overwhelming house’.
The house would be totally gutted, and the project was scheduled to start on May 3 concluding with the reveal on Victoria Day. But asbestos was found making the renovation more complicated, so the project actually began on April 30 with Genesis Restorations on site to remove the dangerous substance.
Upwards of 150 volunteers were involved in the renovation and on the first day, 50 church volunteers turned up. “I can’t say enough about the volunteers, they were tremendous!” says Project Leader, Lorne Brownmiller. “All the volunteers are truly appreciated but two stand out for sure. The Assistant Site Superintendent, Terry McKenzie used his two weeks vacation to work on the project. He’s done this every year that he’s been involved with AOK,” Brownmiller says. Another volunteer was Gail Bergen. Bergen was one of a few people who came every day. “She showed up and did whatever was necessary, whether it was drywall repair (not her favourite), landscaping, and painting,” says Mike Dauncey, Church in the Valley’s Media and Outreach Pastor.
Recipients of the AOK ministry are selected using a nomination system. A person can nominate anyone including themselves. The first step is to fill in an application on the church’s website, www.actsofkindness.ca. Each home is then visited and inspected, and the applicant asked why their home needs an extreme makeover. Following that, the church has the difficult job of selecting a beneficiary. “It usually takes us a few months to find who we feel is the right recipient,” says Dauncey.
Since AOK’s first Extreme Repair, 18 homes have been renovated. “Extreme Home Repair gives a family a new start. Some people are so burdened by the condition of their home, they don’t know where to start. I believe it truly changes lives,” says Dauncey.
In addition to renovating the house, all the appliances were replaced as well. A brand-new gas fireplace was installed making the home warm and comfortable. “The home was freezing cold,” Kendall’s niece Julie explained. “It was like being in a basement,” she says.
The home was originally obscured by a row of hedges and the backyard was so overgrown that it was rendered unusable. The army of volunteers went to work, tearing out blackberry bushes and clearing brush on the ¼-acre property. The backyard now features a beautiful lawn just off the brand-new deck.
Acts of Kindness is a charitable program of Church in the Valley. In addition to Extreme Home Repair, the Ministry includes numerous other community initiatives including Single Mom’s Oil Change, Free Dental Day, Kid Zone Kids Camp and more. Since 1996, in collaboration with other local agencies, and through the generosity of major donors, Acts of Kindness has supplied food, education, support, and compassion to thousands of individuals in Aldergrove, Langley, and beyond.
“Jesus inspired us to help those who are in need and this is one way we can do that. He’s the God of second chances and that’s what we’re doing here. Giving people another start. I can’t put into words the amazing blessing this ministry is to the recipient and to those volunteering on the project. Everyone wins!” says Dauncey.
(with files from the Langley Advance Times)