The Cove continues to show its love for Lions Manor.
Some heroes sprung into action on the day of the fire in late July, while others have emerged in the weeks after to support the 66 displaced seniors. The kind-hearted come from all walks of life in this community – business owners, fellow seniors, families and youth.
Aidan Harding won’t regale his Seycove classmates with a tale of heroism from his summer vacation. He’s too humble.
The 16-year-old happened to be wandering in the Cove when the fire broke out and jumped into action. Harding juggled big responsibilities that day, directing traffic through the smoky haze and chaos, and also helping evacuate the seniors – many of whom had physical challenges.
“I was doing everything I could to keep them calm and collected, and just reassuring them that it was all going to be alright,” explains Harding.
After assisting at the scene of the fire for hours, Harding stayed with the frightened seniors as they shuffled from Parkgate Community Centre to an emergency shelter set up at Mickey McDougall rec centre.
Harding’s selfless service to the community didn’t go unnoticed.
On Aug. 1, Superhero Day at Ron Andrews rec centre, a team of North Vancouver district firefighters rolled up in their big red truck to surprise Harding.
Along with a DNV Fire and Rescue coffee mug, ball cap and T-shirt, Harding received a letter of commendation from District of North Vancouver fire Chief Brian Hutchinson.
In his letter of praise, Hutchinson said Harding went above and beyond in his efforts during that challenging incident, calling the teen “an outstanding example of a compassionate and caring citizen.”
A charitable spirit swept through the Cove all day and night on Aug. 11. A barbecue fundraiser in the community plaza at Parkgate Village, hosted by District of North Vancouver Firefighters’ Charitable Society and Cobbs Bread, raised more than $6,000 for Lions Manor evacuees.
That evening around 100 people turned up at Deep Cove Yacht Club for the Show Your Love for Lions Manor fundraiser put on by Cove businesses including Bluhouse, Deep Cove Kayak and Room6.
The event, which featured live music by the Scott Riddell Band, snacks and a silent auction, raised more than $22,000 for the myparkgate.com fund in support of the fire evacuees.
Monetary donations for the fire victims, collected online through Parkgate Community Services Society, exceeded $48,000 as the campaign was winding down in late August.
In late August, Parkgate delivered the first financial instalment to Mount Seymour Lions Housing Society, which runs Lions Manor, to disperse amongst the evacuees to help get them back on their feet. There will be a second instalment made in mid-September.
“Most of the seniors will remain with family, friends and community members until they get placed into long-term accommodation,” says Erin Smith, manager of seniors services, Parkgate Community Services Society. “Some fortunate ones have already been placed but those are mostly outside of the community; Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley and Squamish. I hope that some will return to Deep Cove down the road as opportunity provides.’
The door will always be open at Parkgate, says Smith, for any of the seniors who need help with finding local resources and also to foster the new friendships that have been created out of this experience.
“I expect we will host a coffee time at some point in the fall to bring together evacuees who wish to gather and reconnect,” says Smith. “The loss of the Manor will leave a gap in some of our programs that served Lions Manor, like the Access Bus program for assisted shopping and Diners Club congregate meal program. But, we will do our best to keep connected with the seniors who wish to.”
Some local kids, deeply affected by seeing the seniors’ loss, put up lemonade stands in the neighbourhood to raise some money for them.
Sydnee Graham, 9, was at a Parkgate camp the day of the fire. She watched as the bewildered seniors filed into the community centre, and wanted to help.
Alongside glasses of lemonade, the Grade 4 Seymour Heights student sold some of the crafts she made at camp.
The crafts are really nothing too elaborate but came from the heart: first attempts at sewing, handmade guitar picks, origami, and rocks Sydnee had painted.
In the end Sydnee raised $197 for the fire victims, while spreading some joy through her art.
“I wanted to help the seniors because they lost their home and I wanted them to have money to buy back some of the stuff they lost and buy food,” says Sydnee. “Hopefully they can find a new home.”