When a fiery disaster struck at Paddington Station Apartments eight months ago, the Langley communities rallied in support, raising an astounding $250,000 for the affected residents.
And now, the people of Paddington want to say thank you.
On Saturday, Aug. 12, the strata council members are hosting a free block party in their courtyard for the community to attend, complete with a BBQ, kids activities, and special performances by award winning country artists Karen Lee Batten and Emily Taylor Adams.
“We need to come around the community that came around us. And I love that it’s in our courtyard, it’s kind of like hugging us,” said Donna Francis, strata council president.
“We think that this needs to be appreciated. We think it needs to be paid forward.”
The first Paddington block party was organized two years ago by Francis and strata council member Donna Moore to help foster a sense of community in their building.
At the time, they were struggling with a rash of break-ins, mail theft, and even people defecating in stairwells, and it was creating an atmosphere of fear and frustration for many of the owners.
But it wasn’t until the Dec. 11, 2016 fire destroyed the building at 5650 201A St. that their dream of community truly came to fruition.
“This is starting to feel like it was meant to be,” Francis said.
“And it’s almost like ask, and you shall receive. And we’ve asked for a community, and we’re receiving one. It just didn’t come in the form that we thought it would come in. It’s coming through the ashes from the fire.
“If you speak it, it will happen. And we’ve seen it. Mountains have moved here, big time.”
It began the night of the fire, when the displaced residents were brought together at the Douglas Recreation Centre, Moore said.
“You were just forced to be together,” she said.
“And everybody was a community as they walked in there, and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger. And you didn’t really realize it.”
Candis Newell, a fellow strata council member, says she can see the difference in the residents every day.
“We would come into the building before it (the fire), and you might wave or you might say ‘hi.’ But then, after the fire, it was like people you didn’t even know would walk up to you and hug you,” she said.
“So it’s pretty cool. But not only that, the community outreach has been amazing. Our neighbouring buildings were letting people in to sit in their lobbies, they were bringing out blankets and socks and food. And then the church, and the movie night — they gave everyone so much stuff.”
The Aug. 12 block party will be held from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at 5660 201A St.
There will be a bouncy castle for kids, balloon twisting, face painting, creative crafts, caricature drawings, a magic show and a 50/50 draw with proceeds going to the Red Cross to support the wildfires.
Throughout the afternoon, both Batten and Adams will be performing.
This is the second time Batten is helping out the residents of Paddington. In December, she held a fundraising concert that raised nearly $60,000.
Adams, too, has a special connection to the building. She is a resident of Paddington Station, and she wrote and performed her own song for the residents at Batten’s fundraiser.
The theme of the event is ‘celebrating great Canadian communities,’ so all attendees are asked to wear red and white, and to bring a non-perishable food item for the Langley Food Bank.
The event is open to anyone to attend, however RSVP is required. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This is for the community,” Francis said.
“They helped in our story.”