Last week we posted the first part of our “fire experience”. What a day that was!!! I feel I aged about 25 years in one day. So in the words of an old radio host Paul Harvey, here is “the rest of the story”.

We all tried to have a normal Christmas with our families. But we were still getting emails and phone calls about how we were doing and next steps. Even turkey couldn’t help me escape from my “fire thoughts”. We were so thankful that YES offered to house us until we could find a new office. Our Employment Ontario partners to the rescue!!!! One item off the list!! The next was to get some books. I remember sitting on my sister’s couch one night and ordering over $5000 worth of books so we could have something to work from. Second thing checked off. But even though it seemed like our first priority was stuff, it had to be ensuring the learners and tutors so that there would be no disruption of service (wait, you may be thinking, a fire causes a disruption in service – you are right) and we would do our best to get them back to learning as soon as possible. BTW (look at me, so cool using the language of the kids ) our students only missed one week of classes 🙂 #firewon’tstopus

It is amazing when you go through something like this, how your to-do-list and things-to-get list grows. “Oh wait, what about a phone? We need to call learners and tutors”. Write it on the list. “Oh, we don’t have any paper or pens”. Ok, I will get them. “But we don’t have a copier”. Oh yeah, I better cancel that contract and get another one ordered. “You need to pay that bill.” Oh, I better get some cheques. “But Vandra, where is your new office?” Ahhhhh – I will get back to you in a few days.

We were once again blessed that our current landlord has another office just down the street from the rubble. It had to be renovated a bit but we thought we could be in by March. Check and check. Now that we had a office a very nice one at that. It just needed tables, chairs, computers, blinds, security system including a fire alarm (lol), filing cabinets, books, stapler, pens, paper, clocks, bookends – the list is endless. Here is a funny story…we needed erasers. So in our office supply order I ordered, what I thought was 24 erasers. We don’t make many mistakes – 24 is enough!!! I ended up with 24 boxes of 24 erasers. That equals 576 erasers. Maybe someone was trying to tell me that mistakes are made here – mostly by me!!!!

We were also blessed with help from the ministry who funds us. They were so supportive – and I am not just saying this to get on their good side. They knew that this was a big job to rebuild and there were only 3 of us to do it. We were given some extra funding to hire some extra help. I pulled in two amazing people who knew literacy and who could keep me from going in many directions at the same time. But this wasn’t the only support we received. People in our community donated money, paper, binders, thumb drives, pencils, pens,a coffee pot (an angels sang when we got that), gift cards for books, and much, much more. We received boxes and boxes of books from other literacy organizations around the province. We received “Thinking of you” notes to encourage us. AND HUGS. Boy, we needed those!!!! I saw love and compassion every day from our community and from the literacy community in Ontario. We weren’t alone!!!

We scheduled our move into the new office for March 16th. The day we were to open the order came down from the province to close for health reasons – Covid 19 hit. The fire wouldn’t stop us but it took a pandemic to slow us down.

Stay tuned for our re-opening thoughts and experiences. I don’t think this story will ever end!!! But that’s ok – our learners never stop, why should we????

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