Kindness of strangers helps Hopedale family


Published on March 17, 2017

Gerri Boase with many of her family members.

©Submitted

It’s arriving a little while after she turned five, but – thanks to the kindness of strangers in Happy Valley-Goose Bay - a child from Hopedale will have a birthday party on Saturday (March 18) – complete with cake, presents, Mary Brown’s chicken and other party favourites.

Jackie Compton-Hobbs of Happy Valley-Goose Bay was touched when she heard a story on CBC News about a mother of three from Hopedale who had to have eight fingers and her lower leg amputated due to frostbite.

“The family didn’t have any money to buy the little girl presents or have a party for her, so I went out to some of the businesses and I got some food. I got a cake donated,” Compton-Hobbs said during a recent phone interview.

Gerri Boase had been drinking the night she fell asleep outdoors in a komatik box in February 2016.

The young mother spent eight months in St. John’s recovering from her life-threatening ordeal.

Gerri has three children ages five, six and nine. She’s expecting her fourth child in June.

Compton-Hobbs said after she secured food and presents for the birthday party she contacted Gerri’s mother Frances Piercy Boase and asked her to arrange a party for her granddaughter on Saturday (March 18).

Frances eagerly agreed, she said.

Compton-Hobbs said when she heard that Gerri wasn’t receiving income support, beyond the monthly family allowance, she wanted to do something to help the family.

The child’s birthday party is just one of the initiatives that came to mind.

Compton-Hobbs started a collection drive asking people to donate food, toys, and children’s clothing. She also accepted monetary donation. The money would be used to buy household items for the family, she said.

Compton-Hobbs said she’s grateful to staff at the Emergency Shelter on Hillcrest Road and the Women’s Shelter on Grenfell Street who agreed to be drop off points for donations.

She is also grateful to Air Labrador for shipping the donations to Hopedale free of charge on Friday (March 17), weather permitting.    

It matters not to Compton-Hobbs that she doesn’t know Gerri or her family.

“I heard her story and I wanted to help. Melanie Muzzerall is helping me coordinate things,” she said.

Compton-Hobbs is a town councillor in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Reaching out to help others isn’t new to Compton-Hobbs. A few years ago she spearheaded a fundraising effort to help build a home for a family who lost their home in a fire. Her efforts helped raise $50,000.

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Frances and her husband cared for their grandchildren during their daughter’s lengthy stay in St. John’s.

When contacted by phone, Frances said the entire family is excited about the fundraising drive taking place in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“I’m so thankful for these great people doing that for my daughter. She’s so happy. She needs the help right now because she hasn’t had any income for all the while she was gone and since she came home,” Frances said.

Frances said her daughter and their family recently moved from a two-story, two-bedroom home to a one-level home with a wheelchair ramp.

The home will make it easier for Gerri and her family.

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In speaking with Compton-Hobbs about the fundraiser, her thoughts take her to the moment when the donations would be dropped off to Gerri and her family.

“Can you imagine the smile that’s going to be on their faces when they receive these donations?” she said.

And those smiles are what Compton-Hobbs’s donation drive is all about.

danette@nl.rogers.com