A mourning Sooke mother is slowly mending her broken heart by giving back to those around her.
Last year on Mother’s Day, Brooke Ervin’s daughter, Hannah Day, died after a seven-year battle with cancer. The nine year old fell ill of a bacterial infection after a chemotherapy session depleted her immune system.
Ervin explained that over the years Hannah was receiving treatment in B.C. Children’s hospital in Vancouver, the community rallied behind them in multiple ways.
“People helped provide us with clothes, food, money … you name it. At one point we also lost our house in a fire, and people started dropping so much food off for us that I actually gained weight,” Ervin recalled. “It just showed me what a community could do.”
After Hannah died, Ervin found she had free time and decided to start cooking a few meals for friends and family.
“I was so consumed with my daughter, and with hospitals and phone calls … after she passed I was like, ‘OK well what now,’” said Ervin.
Three weeks ago, after the pandemic had broken out, one of the people she usually cooks for gifted Ervin a cash donation, which sparked the idea to start meal prepping for more people in the community.
“He gave me $400 and said, ‘here, cook for free this week, on me’, and so I posted to Facebook to see if anyone needed a meal, and the response was overwhelming. I ended up spending about $900 in groceries that week trying to cook for everyone who reached out,” said Ervin.
The next week, she had some food left over and decided to do the same thing again, except made the meals first this time so she knew exactly how many she could realistically give out.
“I made about 300 meals that next week,” said Ervin, adding that members of the community have also been reaching out to her wanting to help out. “Some people came forward with baked goods, others offered to help me deliver.”
Ervin has been mindful of social distancing throughout , and said there is no direct contact with people, as she cooks all the meals herself and then leaves them out on the doorstep for people who want to pick one up or deliver it themselves. When Ervin delivers she just drops the food off on the person’s step, knocks and walks away.
“I have never actually met any person I’ve delivered to, aside from seeing a few of them through the window,” said Ervin.
All of the meals are free to whoever needs them, but are aimed at helping seniors, people with compromised immune systems, those in isolation or having financial issues. Ervin has made more than 800 meals in the last three weeks.
“I can’t even explain the pain in my legs and feet,” Ervin laughed, saying she spent 36 hours over the weekend preparing food for this week.
Ervin said keeping herself busy over the last few weeks has helped keep her mind occupied from mourning Hannah.
“Life without my daughter has been quite unbearable. My heart is broken. People see me as this happy bubbly person, but on the inside I am suffering,” said Ervin. “So when I see the old lady smiling from her window when I drop a meal off for her, I don’t know… It just repairs a little piece of my heart.”
Ervin said she plans to keep providing meals for the community as long as she can afford to.
Because covering the cost of all the meals is impossible on her own, Ervin has become resourceful.
She owns a bouncy castle company that is not currently operating because of the pandemic, so instead has started to rent them out by donation to help cover the cost of the meals.
“I have a whole bunch of them, and I only rent them out once so there is no chance to spread the virus,” said Ervin, explaining families can rent the castles for a whole day or an afternoon.
“It’s all I have to give – bouncy castles and food – just don’t eat the food in the bouncy castle.”
With so many people out of work or isolated during the COVID-19 outbreak, Ervin said this is a perfect opportunity to show gratitude for how much Sooke supported her in the past.
“I feel like this journey with my daughter has taught me so much, and I don’t know where I’d be without her,” said Ervin.
“She has shown me that I have a purpose and a gift for helping people. And helping others is what helps me cope.”
People wishing to receive the meals must contact Ervin with their address, a quick description of how many meals they are looking for, as well if they have any allergies.
If you or someone you know is in need of a hot meal, if you would like to rent a bouncy castle, or would like to donate to Ervin’s initiative contact her directly on Facebook under the name “Brookie Louise” or by email at Sookestrong@hotmail.com.