Last March, Brice Royer needed help. Battling both stomach cancer and depression, the Vancouver resident was told by his doctor that feeling loved and cared for was the world's best medicine. So he headed to Craiglist and posted an ad offering his unconditional love for free. In Canada's most expensive city where nothing is free, the ad went viral, putting a smile on over a million people's faces.
One of those people was Francesca Murray, a single mother living in a homeless shelter with her four year-old daughter Charlotte. It's where Murray and Charlotte have been living for the last 14 months, after fleeing a difficult relationship and struggling with her own mental health. The situation of course, is very stressful, even for an optimistic mama like Murray. “It’s pretty hard. It’s really hard for the kids, because they get uprooted multiple times,” she says.
Despite living in a shelter where food often runs out, Murray offered to cook for Boyer, the one gift she felt she could give him to brighten his day. “I noticed he needed someone who could cook. I can cook really well, at least that’s what everybody else tells me,” says Murray.
Instead, Boyer generously surprised Murray with weekly groceries, which she then shares with other people in the shelter.
But the feel good feels don't stop there!
Boyer recently learned that Murray and her little girl have to move out of the shelter by the end of February. With nowhere to go, Boyer decided to give Murray with the best Christmas present ever.
Boyer surprised Murray with the announcement of a fundraising campaign during an event last weekend (keeping it a secret and letting her think it was a silent auction and party for another friend). The online FundRazr campaign has already raised more than $6,000 of the $25,000 that Boyer would like to raise. Of the goal amount, $5,000 will be given to Murray to help her with any temporary housing needs when she leaves the shelter. The remaining $20,000 will be used to purchase a tiny home (which explains how this particular Christmas present can be wrapped, or at least put into a really, really big gift bag). The home will rely only on solar power, will not have any monthly bills and will be built by the end of March.
According to the FundRazr page, it's hoped that the 300 square-foot tiny home will become part of an international pay-it-forward tiny home movement. After Murray is in a place of her own, the tiny home can be used to help others who are going through transitions. In Vancouver, where the average home price tops $800,000, affordable housing is key to helping people get back on their feet. We love this huge vision of bringing hope to others. As noted on the FundRazr page, homelessness can happen to anyone.
For young Charlotte, who has spent much of her life in the shelter with her mom, this gift brings new meaning to home for the holidays. “Mom, I think Santa arrived early for me,” said Charlotte.
Murray agrees. “I think Santa did too, because now we have a home.”