KELOWNA – When Nelly Barclay talks about her family’s first week in Kelowna, she starts to cry.
A new, non-profit group called Mamas for Mamas came to their aid when an accident left the family with little else but the clothes they were wearing.
“I can’t even put it into words,” she says. “I can breathe because of these amazing women. I have a bed to sleep on. My child has food because of them and clothes to wear. I don’t know how to ever thank them. There aren’t words to express the amount of gratitude our family feels right now.”
The organization is based in Kelowna and has grown to 1,600 members in less than a year. On Feb. 5 Barclay, fiancé Timothy and their 17-month-old daughter were passing through Canmore, Alberta on their way to starting a new life in Kelowna.
“We had been researching B.C. for awhile for somewhere to settle our family for good and we decided on Kelowna,” she says. “It’s a big city but not too big and it seemed like a really good place to raise children.”
Originally from New Brunswick but living in Saskatoon the last four months, Barclay and her family packed all their belongings into a utility trailer and headed west.
Around 30 km outside Canmore, they hit a slippery section of highway, lost control of their vehicle and went into the ditch. The trailer flipped over, crushing almost everything they owned. They did not know they needed separate insurance for a trailer.
“We had everything in there,” she says. “For $11 we could have been covered but we didn’t know it wouldn’t be covered by the vehicle insurance.”
Because of the oversight, the trailer, with its contents, was towed. On top of the expenses involved with such a big move, they were hit with a fine for not having insurance, towing charges of almost $1,500 and a hefty repair bill.
They drove to Kelowna with a few personal items and the clothes on their backs.
That’s when Barclay reached out to Mamas for Mamas. Founder Shannon Christensen says Barclay is exactly who she started the registered non-profit to help.
“I’m so grateful she was connected to Mamas for Mamas because she didn’t have to end up going through homelessness once she got here,” she says. “She had a community to come in to.”
Within 48 hours they had everything they needed, including couches, beds, clothes, a new crib, kitchen table, queen size bed, toys, food and other essential items. The group also helped her find a new job and when the apartment Barclay was counting on fell through, Mamas for Mamas found them a place to live.
“(The apartment) turned out to be an illegal suite,” she says. “It had no stove, no tub and it didn’t have its own heat control. He never mentioned any of this to me but I have a baby so we had to turn it down. One of the Mamas recommended a place that was for rent and it turned out to be better than the one we originally were going to move to.”
Mama Priscilla Clayton—although pregnant herself—helped the most, Christensen says, spending an entire day driving around to members’ houses picking up items for the family.
Altogether they were able to replace almost all of the items lost in the accident. They also raised some money to help pay the damage deposit for the new apartment.
The trailer and what’s left of their possessions are still in Canmore and they have started a gofundme account to help raise the money to pay the impound fees.
“I have a lot of people to thank being in this position and being able to smile,” Barclay says. “We wake up with a roof over our heads and food in the fridge. I’m so grateful for them.”
Christensen says although tragic, the incident shows how important a group like Mamas for Mamas is to a community.
“It was one of those life mishaps that can destroy a young family if they don’t have the support to help pick them back up,” she says. “It’s not just the money it’s the people that were willing to vouch for her and get her the things they needed. She’s got 1,600 powerful mamas behind her.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.