A recent two-foot amputee from Langley City received an early Christmas gift from Church in the Valley and its Acts of Kindness team on Dec. 24.
Sandra Murphy, with her husband Ken at her side, was in Abbotsford hospital on Christmas Eve – having just lost both her feet and several of her fingers to amputation.
The Langley City couple was surprised when a delegation from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church paid them an unexpected visit, but shocked beyond words when they learned the real motive for the stopover.
Murphys will be the 2020 recipients of the Extreme Home Repair, explained AOK pastor Michael Dauncey.
“We figure this news today could be something to brighten up the negative situation right now,” he said of the decision to announce next year’s recipient just ahead of Christmas.
AOK organizers Lorne Brownmiller was also on hand for the announcement at Sandra’s hospital bedside.
“We believe you guys really deserve a Christmas to remember… you’ve had a rough go,” Brownmiller said.
AOK’s annual Extreme Home Repair program sees a team of businesses and community volunteers go in and retrofit homes for people who cannot afford or are not – for various reasons – able to do the needed restore their home to a safe and liveable standard.
For the past 17 years now, the Aldergrove-based AOK team has tackled these home renovations, typically taking upwards of two weeks in May. The Murphy home will be transformed between May 1 to 18, Dauncey confirmed.
They’ve done about two dozen such repair and renovation projects for deserving people. The jobs have ranged from small projects such as a new roof to total re-dos, he explained. Up to a few dozen nominations a year are received.
The Murphys, including their adult daughter Jillian, were nominated by Aldergrove’s Bella Howet, and her sister, Lola. The sisters have know the family for 53 years, and Bella was the one to surprise the Murphy’s by announcing the news on Tuesday.
“You guys are the most deserving people I know,” Bella said.
“It couldn’t happen to a nicer, more deserving family,” she added between sniffles and hugs.
“I can’t believe this. Nothing like this has ever happened to us,” Sandra said, turning away from her guests to hide the flood of tears she kept wiping away from her face. “It’s so amazing,” she added.
Ken was almost at a lose for words as the reality sunk in.
“It’s so awesome, you guys. Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for just being there like this. This is such an awesome thing.”
Murphys bought a Langley City rancher a few years back, as a fixer-upper project they were going to work on together – Ken being “talented with carpentry,” Dauncey explained.
Sadly, a number of issues arose for the family since then, making the renos impossible – at least short-term. In fact, given Sandra’s amputations, the initial plans for retrofitting the house changed. The only priority was to make it wheelchair accessible throughout, so Sandra could get around in her own home, Bella explained.
“They are a good family with true Christian beliefs and have always opened their house and home to those who needed it. Now they need the help…” she said in submitting the request for the AOK team to help the Murphys.
After their son died in the summer of 2016, the loss took its toll on this family, Dauncey elaborated. And through all this, Sandra has battled health issues for many years.
Then, just a few months ago, while travelling in the States, Sandra took sick and ended up in hospital with only 85 per cent of her heart working.
Doctors did what they could to stabilize her, then airlifted her back to Canada.
Because of Sandy’s declining health, Ken left his job to be at her bedside while she was waiting for the amputation of her feet and parts of her hands.
“Not only do they have this on their plate, but now they have a home Sandra can’t return too,” Bella said.
Admittedly, although Ken professed to be “handy,” he knew little of what he would have to do to modify their home so it can accommodate Sandra and her wheelchair.
At the very least, she explained, they’ll need a larger, wheelchair-accessible bathroom, and a ramp to allow access in and out of the house to make it habitable for Sandra.
“I do not know what other problems they will have concerning the house,” Bella added.
Dauncey said the selection of this year’s recipient for the Extreme Home Repair was not as difficult as many in past. The Murphys need help, and need help immediately.
“This has all occurred just in the last few months,” he said. “How devastating to lose limbs like this… this family could really use some help right now… this is definitely a special Christmas gift for them.”
“This is a true blessing,” Sandra said. “I can’t believe this… This kind of thing doesn’t happen to us.”
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