Companies Who Care is truly honoured to share with you the story of one of our most recent support recipients. Please note, we have changed the names of the family members to protect their privacy.
WARNING – Have your Kleenex ready!
The Durham Children’s Aid Foundation came to Companies Who Care with this heartbreaking story of a local family that has experienced some incredible hardship.
The Westbrook Family lives in a basement apartment in Oshawa. Son David is 19 and is brother to 14 year-old twin sisters Darcy and Karen. All three children are honour roll students and David just completed a two year course at Durham College.
These three children lost their father 5 years ago to cancer. Mom eventually met a new partner who became a great stepfather to her children. Just recently, Stepdad was also diagnosed with terminal cancer with a prognosis of 1 year. As the kids struggled to accept the likelihood of losing yet another father-figure, their Mom was also diagnosed with cancer and passed away a mere two weeks ago.
Without any immediate family or support system, the 19 year old son is now in charge of supporting his sisters financially and emotionally. He is working with a local lawyer (pro-bono) to navigate obtaining legal guardianship of his sisters as well as ensuring his mom’s previous disability support payments now transfer to her orphan children. Of course, this all takes time and is a complicated process for a 19 year-old to understand and carry out. Durham Children’s Aid Foundation are providing access to grief counselling for the family and providing any kind of emotional support required to ensure they successfully navigate this incredibly difficult time.
Companies Who Care has made arrangements to cover a month of living expenses (rent, groceries, household bills, etc.) for this family as well as David’s small student loan ($1200) and the cost of an urn for their mother’s ashes ($300). The goal was to take care of their immediate financial needs so that they could focus on handling their mother’s final arrangements and grieving her loss. This family was completely overwhelmed and thankful by the support shown so far, but we know they have many challenges still to face.
During our meeting, the majority of our Core Members were so taken by the plight of this family, that they made substantial personal donations to cover additional months of living expenses and provide other comfort items to help this young family along. Outside of the Companies Who Care donation, we were able to raise and additional $10,000 for this family.
In the short term, David is working part-time (20 hours a week), making minimum wage at a fast food restaurant. He’s hoping to find long term employment in the fall, in his field of study. We have made arrangement for him to work with a financial advisor to create short-term and long-term budgets to ensure that all monthly expenses are covered. At only 19, David will be responsible for running the household and taking care of his two younger sisters. As you can imagine, that is an incredible task and there is a lot to learn.
What these children have gone through and are facing is truly tragic. As a community, we wanted to show them that they are not alone. We have been told that these kids are incredibly mature and responsible and so deserving of our help. We are sure that with the support of many of us, this family will triumph.
Thank you for your support of Companies Who Care. You have allowed us to truly change the path of this family’s life. Both immediately and years down the road.