A broken RV furnace left Rick Beauchamp and his 82-year-old mother without a place to live this winter, but their home on wheels is toasty once again thanks to some help from the community.
Loaves and Fishes charity pooled its resources and reached out to local mechanics with Woody’s RV World and Mid-Alta Motors Ltd. to fix both the RV’s furnace and brakes. An anonymous donor also came forward.
“On our own, there’s no possible way we could have done it. It was amazing,” said Sheila Frank, Loaves and Fishes outreach co-ordinator.
It cost about $1,500 to make the RV usable again.
Rick Beauchamp and his mother Phyllis moved to Red Deer to live in the motor home in 2012.
At first, they stayed with relatives when their furnace quit on Dec. 23. In late January when they were homeless again, they spent their first 36 hours going from restaurant to restaurant to stay warm until someone contacted People’s Place shelter on their behalf.
They have been staying at People’s Place since Jan. 28. and appreciated all the support they received.
Phyllis Beauchamp said they “didn’t want for anything” at People’s Place where other clients called her “mama.”
“You get all kinds of people coming in there, some with more abrupt issues than others. But all in all, they are just people who need to be given a chance and I’m glad we got a chance to both meet some of these people and find benevolent people who were able to help us,” Rick said.
Work on the RV was completed last week and they were looking forward to moving back in.
He said an RV is more affordable than other kinds of housing.
“It’s a very viable option as long as they take care to make sure they’ve got a unit that is rebuildable like ours, and it’s sealed. Most motor homes aren’t sealed for winter use.”
When Loaves and Fishes reached out for help to fix the Beauchamp’s motor home, local businesses readily accepted the challenge.
“It was just an opportunity to do a really good thing. You shouldn’t pass up on those,” said Keith McIntosh, service manager at Mid-Alta Motors.
He said if his grandmother was in a similar situation, he would hope a mechanic would assist her.
Kurt Johnson, Woody’s RV World technician, agreed that if there’s a chance to help a person in need — why not?
“It’s hard to even imagine being in a situation like that. If you can help in anyway, it’s the very least we can do,” said Johnson, who has served supper at Loaves and Fishes along with other Woody’s employees.
People’s Place shelter increased its beds to 46 this winter. The extra 11 spaces will be available until April.
Kath Hoffman, executive director of Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing which operates People’s Place, said the increase in spaces at both People’s Place, and its Mat program, has served them well.
“We’re still sheltering 46 people a night at People’s Place and 26 at Mats pretty regularly,” Hoffman said.
This winter mat spaces went up to 26 from 20 at the overnight program near the city’s downtown for homeless who are intoxicated or high. Twenty-six mats will continue to be available year round.
Beds at People’s Place also increased to 35 from 23 a few months ago and will be open year round.
Hoffman said it’s not too often that People’s Place has an 82-year-old client.