Local author Ken Penner’s new book, Community in the Face of Tragedy, recounts how a community came together, in different ways and from different walks of life, to help a neighbour rebuild her home from the ashes of a wildfire.
Penner chronicles the true story of how an older woman named Eleanor, found herself in desperate need of a home in 2010, when a dangerous combination of an extremely dry fall and sparks from a hydro line destroyed everything she had.
The book centres on how at first a few people decided to help Eleanor rebuild, then more contributed and as time went on, how a house was built and outfitted by little more than faith and an idea of what was needed.
Penner is the first to admit he is not a home builder, an architect or engineer. He is a man of great faith that was on a mission to help a neighbour.
Helping our neighbours in the North is nothing new, many people do it everyday. What was unique to helping Eleanor, was that there was little coordination of the gigantic task and number of supplies and people needed to build a house.
Instead, people and supplies would “show up” when they were needed, according to Penner.
It wasn’t like they appeared out of thin air, rather, someone would “hear” a Caterpillar was needed to clear a foundation, a school would “hear” a place needed a clean up crew, an architect “found out” drawings were needed, and it continued on.
Donations of money from the community had come in initially, when fire razed Eleanor’s house to the ground.
With careful oversight, and many more donations of not just money, but supplies, services, and volunteers, Eleanor’s house was built, furnished, hooked up to hydro and even landscaped a bit, with no debt left behind.
“It is remarkable what people and faith can accomplish,” Penner said many times in his book.
According to Penner you don’t have to have a background, necessarily, into whatever you endeavour to take on, but it’s been his experience that it takes a great deal of faith to accomplish your works.
For her part, Eleanor has an “exceptionally warm house” and she is thankful to the Lord and all those who helped her make the impossible possible.
Ken Penner resides in the Bulkley Valley and this is his first published book.