Christine Habsburg

UPDATE: Community effort to help homeless senior and dog in extreme weather reunites family

“I’m brought to tears at their kindness and generosity.”

UPDATE:

Following an outpouring of community donations, a homeless senior and his dog will be reuinted with his sister after not being in contact for more than 30 years.

After Williasm Lake resident Christine Hagsburg’s Facebook plea for help went viral, Habsburg said she was contacted by the man’s family member, who then spoke to him about his options.

“I wanted to give them the opportunity to present him with that option as a family member before I [went] there basically as a stranger,” Hagsburg said.

“He would love to have his vehicle roadworthy and insured to move to reunite with his sibling in Vancouver Island.”

Habsburg said the more than $1,000 donated will be used to repair the man’s windshield, a fan and, possibly, brakes.

ORIGINAL:

A homeless senior and his dog will be reunited with his family following efforts by a Williams Lake couple who were worried about him due to the extreme cold.

It all started Saturday evening when Williams Lake resident Christine Habsburg, who had been noticing the man and his dog living out of his truck for some time, started worrying about how he was going to fare in the -30C weather.

She made a Facebook post, it went viral locally, the community of Williams Lake stepped up in a big way and, since, Habsburg has been contacted by the man’s sister he has not been in contact with for 30 years, who has reached out to bring him and his dog to her home in B.C.

“I was concerned about him so I said I was going to post something on Facebook about maybe gathering him some blankets and something warm,” said Habsburg, who works for Changing Directions and extremely high-risk Aboriginal youth.

In the meantime her husband, Marcel Habsburg, went and purchased a room at the Lakeside Motel for the man overnight Saturday.

“He was very reluctant to accept it and said ‘you shouldn’t feel obligated,’ then he paused for a long time and said we should go get our money back,” Habsburg said. “It took us about 10 minutes to convince him and he got out with his dog and we drove him to the motel and check him in there.”

READ MORE: Williams Lake homeless shelter remains open day and night due to extreme cold

Upon checking her Facebook post she noticed people wanted to donate money and supplies to help out.

“This morning [Sunday] I had collected $1,061.72 and that is not including another $183.28 for two nights at the motel,” she said. “So he’s got a total of three nights in his hotel room, plus another person who said they were going to go pay for another night.”

Habsburg was also contacted by a man at the Lakeview Trailer Park who said they had a room for rent available, however, since being contacted by the man’s family member, Habsburg said the money will be used to inspect his currently uninsured vehicle, register it in B.C., conduct any maintenance required, insure it, fuel it and get him to his destination, plus cover the cost of hotels daily until his truck is ready to travel.

“His cousin saw the post on Facebook and contacted their family,” Habsburg said. “The cousin’s mom called his sister who wanted him to come live with her and they have not been in touch for over 30 years and just assumed they wouldn’t see each other again.

“She is welcoming him and his dog to her home and re-establishing their relationship.”

Habsburg said she is completely overwhelmed by the support the community of Williams Lake showed in such a short amount of time.

READ MORE: Extreme cold warning issued for B.C. Interior, Williams Lake

“Everybody’s contributed above and beyond,” she said. “I think he’s a very proud man who has encountered some very unfortunate circumstances, and I’m so glad we caught him at the beginning of this cold snap. From the brief conversations I’ve had I believe he’s a good person, so I’m going to go visit him today to present him with all this information and see how it goes.”

Habsburg added everyone in the Williams Lake area who contributed should be thanked.

“All I did was state that a man needed warmth and all of these beautiful souls stepped up and made this small miracle possible,” she said.

“They deserve the credit for all of this. I’m brought to tears at their kindness and generosity.”

This story is developing and the Tribune will continue to post updates as it progresses.



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