|Dean Schaffler and Mary-Lynn Coleman now have a home thanks to a Good Samaritan. Kirk Holmes, a Surrey man, donated a motor home to the couple after hearing their story on the news.|
Dean Schaffler can't remember the last time he got a full night's sleep. When he was living on the street, Schaffler and his partner, Mary-Lynn Coleman, had to be up at 7 a.m. to pack their things and move before people started coming downtown for work.
But now, thanks to a Good Samaritan, Schaffler and Coleman have a place to live.
Kirk Holmes, who's from Surrey, donated a motor home to the couple, after hearing about their story.
"He drove it here and dropped it off and even paid the first month's rent," said Schaffler.
The couple first made news in December when they were evicted from a garden shed they were living in with their three dogs, Paul, Lou and Cooper. Ruth Neiser rented her backyard garden shed to the couple and their pets for $200 a month.
That was until a neighbour complained and bylaw officers evicted the couple from the shed and fined Neiser $500 for ignoring a warning by the City of Kelowna.
"We got kicked out of our shed by bylaw on Dec. 13," said Schaffler.
"It was the worst timing in the world. It was 12 days before Christmas and it was snowing and we were living on the street again."
The couple receives about $540 a month for housing assistance, but wasn't able to find a place to rent with that amount of money and because of their dogs. But on Jan. 18, thanks to Holmes, they moved into their motor home.
"If anyone is gonna hardship themselves to maintain their animals, it was easy enough for me to make the decision to help them," said Holmes in a phone interview on Sunday.
Holmes runs a private animal shelter in Vancouver and was compelled to help when he saw their story on the news.
He currently houses 14 animals, including dogs and cats, many that are disabled.
"I wanted to get them through the winter. They looked like straight-up people who are struggling, and I don't judge off of one meeting," he said.
Schaffler is extremely grateful to Holmes.
"He has has a heart of gold," said Schaffler.
It's been a tumultuous few months for the couple. After being evicted from the garden shed, Schaffler went to bylaw court where he was faced nine charges, including having their dogs off leash, their dogs swimming in the lake and drinking in public - which he says he wasn't ticketed for.
The couple was also accused of panhandling. Five of the charges were dropped. Schaffler credits another Good Samaritan, lawyer Joseph Gordon, for taking on his case last Tuesday, pro bono.
"We were sleeping in Paul Nesbitt's parking spot downtown and we weren't out of his parking spot yet. Our dog, Paul, ran over to Paul's car and that's how we got introduced," Schaffler said.
"He knew Joseph Gordon and that's how he ended up helping me out with the case," he said.
Schaffler said they're ready to move forward with their lives and having the motor home is a step in the right direction. They said that they'll live in the motorhome as long as Holmes allows them to.
"We haven't felt this good in a long time," he said.
"I just want to get out of this rut. It's surprisingly easy how you can fall into it and shockingly hard to get out of it," he said.