Outlook finally brightening for Comox Valley woman

For the first time since October, life is looking up for 37-year-old Shannon Hutchinson and her family.

SHANNON HUTCHINSON AND Rudie sit in her mother's newly renovated living room. If she was sitting here just three months ago, she would have been sitting on top of an old wood stove underneath a gaping hole in the roof.

SHANNON HUTCHINSON AND Rudie sit in her mother's newly renovated living room. If she was sitting here just three months ago, she would have been sitting on top of an old wood stove underneath a gaping hole in the roof.

For the first time since October, life is looking up for 37-year-old Shannon Hutchinson and her family.Hutchinson reached out to the Comox Valley for in-kind donations to help renovate her mother’s unliveable Courtenay home in March. The community responded — businesses donated supplies and old family friends contacted her to help with the physical work.Now, Hutchinson, her two teens and her 62-year-old mother, who is agoraphobic — afraid of open or public spaces — have been able to move into the revamped home.”I’m just so grateful because now we can stay here — and she’s (her mother) happy,” said Hutchinson, adding her mother was not comfortable anywhere except in her own home. “I’m just so thankful that we were actually able to pull it off.Hutchinson’s life has been a whirl-wind since October.Her father had been renovating the home while he and Hutchinson’s mother lived in it. But he died suddenly from respiratory failure in October at the age of 67. Hutchinson didn’t even have time to grieve the loss of her father, who she said was like her best friend; he did everything for her mother outside of the home, from getting groceries to paying bills, and when he passed away, Hutchinson took over her father’s duties as best she could while raising her two teenagers and working as a medical office assistant.Her father’s death was hard on her mother, explained Hutchinson, adding he was a huge part of her mother’s life. Her mom’s health deteriorated, and she suffered two strokes early this year, which affected her mobility. At the same time, some renovations her father had been working on weren’t complete and problems cropped up with the home; the wood stove was deemed unsafe and had to be removed and some parts of the ceiling had water damage, including the area around the wood stove which fell down leaving a hole in the roof.Because of her health deterioration and the condition of the home, her mother moved in with Hutchinson in Comox.Hutchinson took compassionate care leave from her work and wanted to fix up the home so the whole family could move in and she could better care for her mom where she feels comfortable.After her call out for help, two of her father’s old friends contacted Hutchinson and stepped up. Slegg Lumber and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore gave discounts on supplies.And Home Depot called her when it heard she needed help.”They phoned me and a man from there came and checked it out,” Hutchinson said with a smile, adding the company gave her over $1000 worth of supplies after the employee assessed what she needed. “And then he came here in his truck and we loaded, like hand-bombed, everything into the house.”Among other things, walls were knocked out, floors and cabinets replaced and the bathroom was adapted with a walk-in shower for her mother.An old friend of Hutchinson’s spent countless hours helping with physical labour. And Hutchinson worked on the home almost every day since early March, spending 12 hours there some days.”It was totally overwhelming, like I haven’t even had a chance yet to sit,” said Hutchinson with a laugh, as she sits down in her new living room. “I’m very fortunate because now that I’m sitting I can relax a little bit.”Hutchinson added her mom likes the new home.”She says ‘I really like it — I just have to get used to it,'” said Hutchinson. “It does look like a totally different house, but she’s comfortable… I think she’s totally happy to be home.”Now that the family is living together and the home just needs a few small details finished up, Hutchinson plans to rest for a bit and take some time to grieve the loss of her father.”It’s hard because I was so busy… I never really had a chance to really, like, grieve my dad, and now that most of the renos are done, that’s all I think about, that my dad’s gone,” she said. “It’s been a long seven months since my dad died so I’d like to get settled here, take them (family) camping, you know just get everything organized, then go back to work for September.”writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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