Stephen “Dusty” Roberts remembers the first day he spent stuffing paper flyers for his dad’s new carpet-cleaning business into the mailboxes.
It was a Saturday in 1973 and they started in Colwood.
“The first job we got was from one of the flyers I had put in a mailbox. I still remember it. Mrs. Day on Pickford Road,” said Roberts, the owner-operator of Victoria-based Luv-A-Rug carpet cleaning services.
Roberts’ father, Gordon, died on Jan. 5 at age 91 (not of COVID-19). He spent his final months at the Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead. In the fall of 2019 Gordon’s needs had exceeded what his wife Connie, Roberts’ mom, could fulfill, and moved into a care home. When COVID-19 arrived in March, it meant he was cutoff from his family. Eventually, in the fall of 2020, Gordon moved into Broadmead, where he had wanted to be if he had to be in care.
Roberts would call as much as possible but with Gordon’s hearing at about 25 per cent, and even with a loudspeaker on the phone, calls were difficult at best, Roberts said. Gordon was thrilled when he was relocated to Broadmead.
There he had a window that family could visit through. Outside the window Roberts installed a bird feeder, and his dad loved it.
“It’s hard to imagine what it’s like when you can’t see or speak to your loved ones,” Roberts said. “My sister [Sheila Pilkey] and I thought, maybe dad will like a bird feeder, a wild bird feeder or hummingbird feeder. We did, and whenever talked to him, he loved it, his face lit up.”
Roberts’ stepbrother, Robert Dow, paid for it.
Having seen how much his father enjoyed the bird feeder, Roberts had the idea to install them outside more care home windows.
“Especially during COVID-19, people are shut out. Anything that we can do, if it brings even a little joy. I will do it,” Roberts said.
Roberts called care homes around the region to gauge interest. One ordered 20 right away. He hopes to raise $10,000 toward the cause through his Luv-A-Rug business. He calls the online fundraiser the Luv-A-Senior fund. To raise the money, Roberts is selling area rug cleaning for half price, with a recommendation that the customer donates to the fund for bird feeders, and feed. Any excess money would go to the music therapy program at Royal Jubilee Hospital.
“It’s a two-for-one, we’ll do the first rug for free, and then we ask people to donate whatever their heart tells them [in lieu of] the second rug. If it’s three or more, it’s 50 per cent off the washing bill, with the same suggestion of donation,” Roberts said.
Luv-A-Rug is no stranger to charitable work. Since budgetary school district cutbacks in 2017 they’ve been cleaning area rugs for Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes for free. They are also running the fourth annual Warm Rugs for Cold Homes campaign, Jan. 15 to Feb. 15, with a goal of collecting 200 area rugs. The rugs are cleaned and donated to charities for use, such as covering a cold floor, or to sell and raise funds.
For Roberts, and family, it’s a perfect way to give back in Gordon’s honour.
For more information visit luvarug.com/seniors.