Pat’s two children cuddle their cat Jasmine while wearing onesies receieved in their latest parcel from Leisa Hirvonen. (Special to The News)

Pat’s two children cuddle their cat Jasmine while wearing onesies receieved in their latest parcel from Leisa Hirvonen. (Special to The News)

Online ad brings together families from Comox Valley and Maple Ridge

Leisa Hirvonen and Shelley Scullah team up to help retiree who recently adopted his newborn grandson

Maple Ridge’s Leisa Hirvonen said it was a ‘cute’ Craigslist ad that brought a family from the Comox Valley into her life.

‘I think it read – Grandpa’s having a baby,” she recalled.

Courtenay’s Shelley Scurrah wrote the eye-catching snippet in January for a family she has come to care for very much.

Her upstairs neighbour, Pat – who has asked that his surname not be used – is a 60-year-old retiree taking care of his two young kids. He recently found out an older son’s girlfriend had given birth, and that the couple were going to be unable to take care of the newborn.

He decided to apply to the Ministry of Children and Family Development BC to act as guardian to the child. Soon after applying, things became even more difficult when the mother of his six and eight-year-old children passed away abruptly.

Knowing Pat had a lot to deal with, and was on a fixed pension, Scurrah wrote the ad hoping to appeal to the immediate community to donate some of the many things that are required to take care of a baby.

She said the people in the Comox Valley were incredibly helpful, but Hirvonen’s contributions were of particular note.

“At first I was taken aback and didn’t even want to say yes,” said Scurrah, who babysits the kids.

“It felt awkward to me to have somebody sending something from out-of-town.”

READ MORE: Westview students painting pet portraits for animal rescue

After exchanging a few emails however, Scurrah soon let her guard down and the two have been in touch constantly since.

Pat said Hirvonen has been a ‘godsend.’

“She found out about my other two children who had just lost their mother on January 8, so she wanted to know about them, and then she sent a whole bunch of stuff for them,” he said.

“She has helped to heal my family in so many ways.”

The ‘clothing faerie’ – as Hirvonen has come to be known by the family – sent multiple parcels of clothes over the course of the year for the two children, making sure they had outfits for all seasons.

This summer, she and her husband rented a van, and drove over to Courtenay to deliver some items in person.

“I found out they could use some beds and some other goods,” Hirvonen said.

“So I figured let’s collect some stuff and head over.”

She scoured Craigslist and some local thrift stores and acquired bunk beds, two trampolines, a bike, and a bunch of ‘ride-em’ toys.

Also along for the ride was a kitten named Jasmine, who Scurrah said has become ‘an accomplished mouser’ and a ‘lovely distraction from tougher stuff’ for the two grieving children.

With current distancing recommendations in place, Hirvonen did not stay long, but it meant a lot to her to meet the family in person.

“I count my lucky stars for having met these people,” she said.

‘They’re just amazing. And Shelley’s the backbone of everybody. I’m proud to think of her as family now.

“There’s been an incredible bond built over the past year.”

Helping people has become a big part of Hirvonen’s life.

What started out as small gift parcel for the children of friends, has turned into a life’s passion..

“I was so happy when I heard how they enjoyed it, I kind of got addicted to that feeling,” she said.

“I started looking on Craigslist, and around to see who else might like a parcel and this is how I found the people [in Courtenay].

She also helps a number of other families across the province and has even sent parcels to Gambia.

“I started looking for people that I could make a difference for, and that really helped me,” she said,

“It was like therapy for me to do it, because it brought me so much joy.”

An eye for deals has fared the 57-year-old well.

“And I’m an empty-nester, with a lot of love to give,” Hirvonen adds, noting the love has been returned a thousand-fold.

“People have really, really shown me there’s still a lot of good out there in the world.

“And I needed that.

“You might think I’m doing this to help others, but really it’s me that’s gotten more than I could ever give by seeing that there are still people who really care about others.”

If there is anything she can pass along, Hirvonen said it is to challenge others to step outside their comfort zone, and provide help to strangers this upcoming holiday season.

“I would encourage people to count their blessings, and then do something special for someone less fortunate than they are.

“It will give them more than they could ever wish for.”



ronan.p.odoherty@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

charityCourtenayMaple Ridge

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man sustained burns to his body near this spot around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 13 in Courtenay. The fire was left of the pathway. The Station youth housing facility and city public works yard are to the right of the trail. Photo by Terry Farrell
Emergency personnel respond to man on fire in wooded area of Courtenay

A man was badly burned in the early morning hours Tuesday in… Continue reading

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: Thieves steal truck from Black Creek car lot by towing it away

Have you seen a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 in your neighbourhood in… Continue reading

Teresa Hedley and a copy of her book, “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied
Comox Library recognizes Autism Awareness Month with presentation by local author

April is World Autism Awareness Month, an annual opportunity to increase understanding… Continue reading

Comox council will further look at a troublesome traffic area in the Point Holmes area of the town. Photo submitted
Comox council to look at speed calming measures at Point Holmes

“…We are waiting for a problem to happen if we don’t act.”

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
19 Wing Comox crew involved in three-tonne cocaine seizure worth more than $293 million

12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron involved in Op Caribbe

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Comox Lake is the drinking water source for the CVRD. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Water Treatment Project nears completion

The Comox Valley Water Treatment Project is more than 85 per cent… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Comox council approved a change in fees for using the Comox Municipal Marina, extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31 each year. Black Press file photo
Fee changes, increased costs coming to Comox Municipal Marina

The town will be extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Most Read