In early September, Chantell Hursts’ life changed while braiding a little girl’s hair.
She was helping the young lady and her sisters prepare for a day one can scarcely imagine – the day they would say goodbye at their parents’ funeral after unspeakable tragedy struck and they lost them both on the same day. While Chantell was working on the prettiest of braids in the most delicate of situations, she overheard the strife in the voice of the girl’s grandmother as she worried about finding a place for the children to live where they wouldn’t be split up.
“We can take them all,” Chantell eventually said. Her children are grown and her new husband Terrance always wanted children of his own, so within barely the blink of an eye they were now caring for the needs of six young people facing the devastating strain of sudden loss.
But she and Terrance didn’t hesitate and the community has rallied behind them in inspiring ways.
The children’s great grandfather graciously donated his house, though it needed updating, as the two-bedroom home Chantell and Terrance lived in would not suffice; companies in the area have offered to help them renovate and upgrade the HVAC system and community donations have since poured in.
Her Schlegel Villages family stepped up as well. Chantell’s face and her bright smile are quite familiar to the neighbours and team members in The Village at St. Clair in Windsor through her role in food services. As soon as The Village heard what was happening, they arranged time off and Chantell says: “for them to understand and handle my situation with such kindness and sincerity has been amazing.”
It wasn’t long before a donation from the Wilfred Schlegel Hope Fund came through, as well, offering $5,000 to cover rent on a temporary home while the renovations are completed.
“My Schlegel Family was 100 percent supportive,” Chantell says. “A lot of people have made great donations and the Hope Fund has helped us tremendously.”
She admits she wasn’t aware the Hope Fund even existed and she’s committed to contributing to it now, as every team member donation is matched by the Schlegel Family. “It’s real and I cannot wait to pay into the Hope Fund because it really helped me,” she says. The help has come from so many angles, and for a woman of faith, she finds purpose and meaning through this all.
“It feels like this was ordained and it’s a blessing to be in their lives,” Chantell says, thinking of the five girls and their brother. “They’re in a devastating situation . . . but structure and consistency are the key, and lots of love.”
That love has been pouring in and Chantell is channelling it to help the children with counselling and a sense of togetherness with their community. Through tragedy, Chantell has seen countless blessings; six of which she will gather in her arms each night, hoping to carry them beyond the pain of the loss they have experienced.
#IGiveHope is a reminder of the legacy behind the Fund; Wilfred Schlegel was a humble community builder, always there to lend a hand, and Schlegel Villages team members embody that spirit every day. Click here to learn more about the Hope Fund and, if you are able, please consider donating to the WSHF this month during our #IGiveHope Campaign.