April 29, 2015 - 7:29 PM
KAMLOOPS - Finding people a place to call home, rather than a place to crash, is Kerry Rubel’s speciality.
Arranging billet homes for players on the Kamloops Blazers team is a family-learned practice. Her late mother Doris did it for 40 years.
To make sure every Blazer gets a safe spot Rubel screens potential families and usually asks if more than one player can stay with a family. She makes sure they’re close to school, have friends nearby and if a host family is going on vacation that they have somewhere else they can go.
Most importantly, players always have a point of contact with Rubel.
“(Parents) are sending us their kids. They’re away from home and don’t know exactly what’s going on. I’m always here to answer the phone, answer an email or a text or something,” she says.
Rather than creating a tenant/landlord relationship, Rubel calls the relationship 'families meeting families.' She says host parents are usually very active with their billets and because of tickets provided by the program, attend the games in support with all the other hosts.
“You make a lot of friends for life that way,” Rubel says, mentioning how close she is with hosts and players. “You talk to the families all the time. When (hosts) get an email with a picture of their baby, I get a copy of it."
Drawing on her own family’s experience, Rubel points out how some players continue to keep in contact well after their initial meeting. One player, now 54 years old, still sends her regular emails. Rubel met him when he was 16.
On Mother’s Day and Christmas, her mother received several cards from past players who had stayed in her home.
“We’ve even been invited to weddings,” Rubel says.
A few NHL stars made their way after billeting in Kamloops. Rubel specifically mentions Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan, both still involved in the organization as owners.
This time of year is crunch-time; the coordinator is currently looking for Valleyview-based families to take players in.
Per billet, a family receives $425 per month along with two season tickets. She notes signing up for the program is 'not a money making thing,' as the cost of food could be a bit higher.
“They can eat more than $425 a month. Some of them are pretty big boys,” she says.
Rubel plans to have players signed up for housing by July as hockey camp begins in August. The billet term is until the end of March unless the team makes it to playoffs, which would extend the stay until the end of April.
If you’re interested in billeting a Blazer, contact Rubel by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Clockwise from top left to bottom) Rubel with Pittsburgh Penguin Mark Kokachowski, Pat Mangold, Dave Scyzowski, Rob Brown and Warren Babe. All but Brown were billets in the Rubel home. She still keeps in touch.
(GLYNN BROTHEN /InfoTel Multimedia)
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015