A temporary home in times of disaster

Dignitaries cut the ribbon on the Wesleyan Refuge disaster relief center on Feb. 28, 2015. Pictured, from left, Wesleyan Church Rev. Larry Blaikie, congregation member Yvon-Lise L'Ecuyer, MP Guy Lauzon's Executive Assistant Eric Duncan, Acting Cornwall Mayor Carilyne Hebert and congregation member Jerry Joanisse. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Cornwall and SD&G families forced from their home by a catastrophic event, like a fire or flood, could have a short term roof over their head.

The Cornwall Wesleyan Church on Sydney Street unveiled its “Wesleyan Refuge” Saturday afternoon, named after Biblical references in the Book of Psalm and the Book of Numbers.

The 600 square foot apartment, which can accommodate a family of four, will allow families to stay for up to a month while they get their lives together after a catastrophe. The stay would be free for families in need.

The apartment is a former school classroom, which was transformed into the new home with a separate entrance. The Methodist church purchased the school from the French public school board a few years ago.

Acting Cornwall Mayor Carilyne Hebert and MP Guy Lauzon’s Executive Assistant, Eric Duncan, help cut the ribbon on the new facility.

“I would like to congratulate the Wesleyan Church…for taking their space, recognizing a need in our community and filling a gap that we so needed filled,” Acting Mayor Hebert said.

“I think whenever we talk about a disaster or a personal issue happens in somebody’s home, whatever it may be, and the stress and the anguish that they’re going through, and to know there’s a spot like this, that there’s the Wesleyan Church that is reaching out to families like that really means a lot,” Duncan told attendees.

Members of the Cornwall Wesleyan Church show off their new disaster relief center on Feb. 28, 2015, which will house a family of four for up to a month. Rev. Larry Blaikie (black suit) shows of the kitchen to MP Executive Assistant Eric Duncan, center, while Acting Cornwall Mayor Carilyne Hebert (green jacket) listens. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)
Members of the Cornwall Wesleyan Church show off their new disaster relief center on Feb. 28, 2015, which will house a family of four for up to a month. Rev. Larry Blaikie (black suit) shows of the kitchen to MP Executive Assistant Eric Duncan, center, while Acting Cornwall Mayor Carilyne Hebert (green jacket) listens. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

Wesleyan Church Rev. Larry Blaikie says families will be referred by disaster relief organizations, such as the Red Cross.

“Our goal is not to compete with other organizations or established or duplicate services,” Blaikie told the audience.

Blaikie says it’s been “a three year journey” from fund raising the $35,000 needed to build to the 10 months of construction. He says a portion of the money was fund raised ahead of time but a lot of it had to be borrowed to complete the project. However, Blaikie says it was worth it because it “was so worthwhile to our community.”

“Our motto when we started was that we know we cannot do something for everyone, but let’s at least do something for someone and that’s really what our heart was when we started this.”

Blaikie acknowledged the various people, construction companies, building supply companies and the engineer who helped make it happen. He also singled out the City of Cornwall planning department who “went beyond their call of duty” to help the project go ahead.

The building at 780 Sydney is also home to a community room, used by 150 people a week, and the Science Center of Paradoxes.

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