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Fire Survivors Paying It Forward To Create Charity
$155 raised
0% of $100k goal
4 contributors
0 days left
Ended Oct 9, 2015
My name is Sherrill.  My husband Dave & I arrived home to thick black smoke when we opened the door to our home.  Bearly seeing our own hands infront of our faces, we rushed in frantically to save our two cats.  I opened windows & doors while ... More ...

PART I:

Our Story:

My name is Sherrill.  In May 2010, my husband Dave & I arrived home to thick black smoke when we opened the door to our home.  Barely seeing our own hands infront of our faces, we rushed in frantically to save our two cats.  I opened windows & doors while Dave searched the house.  Neighbours arrived on scene & dragged me out of the house.  I was nine months pregnant.  Dave found the cats. They survived. Unfortunately, our fish did not.  I was taken by ambulance to the hospital for soot & smoke inhalation & hooked to a fetal monitor.  Dave & I returned from the hospital to find our home & all of our belongings destroyed.  With only the shirts on our backs, covered from head to toe in soot & smoke & with our two cats, we set off to stay with family approximately half an hour away. 

Our son, Tyson was born one week later; beautiful, happy & healthy.  It's strange how life works. One moment we were put in an unimaginable situation suffering the worst day of our lives and a few days later we were blessed with the best day of our lives.

Our insurance company left us without sufficient funds to rebuild our home. According to FBIC.org (Fight Bad Faith Insurance Companies), up to 95% of insurance companies act in bad faith.They repeatedly and consistently break the law. Unpaid or underpaid settlements are responsible for the destruction and loss of wealth, assets, businesses, jobs and cause poverty. Pursuing a bad faith claim against an insurance company is very lengthy. Victims can expect to be involved in litigation for three to ten years. Many people simply do not have the means to do so. Lawyer and various legal fees that will be encountered are extensive. Due to the financial and emotional stress it causes, many people walk away. Insurance companies know this. In fact, they count on it.  We fought all we could.  These companies are simply to large, with too much money.  We were even bullied into signing a non-disclosure agreement just to get the pathetic settlement that we did. It nearly drained every aspect of our lives. An experience like this really alters your sense of dignity. We became a statistic but I'm not about to let somebody else decide the fate of my family.  Not without trying anyways.

Read more on my blog:

http://www.justprevail.com/crowdfunding-support-victIms-bad-faith-insuranc

Watch our videos:

Where We Are Now:

It's been four years since the fire. We are still without a home to call our own. We are still staying with my parents. Tyson calls it “Grandpa’s house.” Tyson has his own room but for three and a half years Dave & I slept on separate couches in separate rooms because there just wasn’t enough room for all of us. Recently some space was made in the basement for us but privacy is still little to none. My parents have a lovely home but my father has some health issues. It's not a good environment all around, for any of us. It was only suppose to be temporary.

We owned our home for ten years prior to the fire. We are still paying a mortgage, property tax & increased insurance premiums on an empty lot.  We can't even sell the property because without a house, it is not worth what is owed on the mortgage. We could only claim bankruptcy, financially ruining us further. 

We were looking forward to raising a family here.  We had planned to have another baby soon after Tyson.  That has become impossible with our living arrangement. It's something I fear will never happen due to my age.  I am 41 years old.

We stay on our property in a borrowed trailer with no running water or electricity in the warmer weather. We go to a trailer park/marina three miles from our home just to shower for $1.00 each day. It’s a nice place & we are grateful we are permitted to use it but we feel like nomads. It was humiliating when we had to explain to the park manager why we needed to use the facility.

We work hard to improve the things we can such as the backyard & landscape. We make it a positive place for Tyson.  We have a beautiful backyard on a large lot in a lakeside community. Tyson loves it there. He calls it “home.” He understands there was a fire just before he was born & a new house is to be built. However, he has difficulty when it’s time to leave. He never wants to leave. He cries often because he’s bonded with many children in the neighbourhood. There’s not many children in my parents neighbourhood. He says “I’m going to miss my friends.” Last Christmas while decorating the tree, Tyson said “Mommy, I’m going to ask Santa for a new house.” I wish it were that easy.

Tyson just started his first year of school. What an emotional day his first day was. While we were thrilled to watch Tyson grow & take the next milestone, it was also a sad day because it wasn't the school he was suppose to attend with his friends. It’s not home. I’m happy he has the opportunity to meet new friends but we will have to watch his sorrow again when it's time to leave the friends he makes at this school. We can't wait for the day that he can just be a four year old little boy, without a care in the world.  This fire & insurance company has taken so much of our lives from us.

Not everyone around us has been so supportive. Recently, we've  had our property and trailer vandalized a few times. Now we worry when we're not there.  There is just an empty hole now, where our house once stood. One neighbour said "Fix your house. Nobody wants to look at that." We would if we could.

Dave & I have done all of the demolition of what was left of our house ourselves. We relocated nearly 200 patio slabs & 2, 20ft gardens layered in retaining wall ourselves that were around our home. Some kindhearted friends & neighbours also lent a hand. Even little Tyson has pitched in.  Bless his soul, he is such a little helper. He's only three years old in the pictures below.

Why are we crowdfunding?

We've had some wonderful & generous people from our community reach out to us & offer their services for the rebuild.  NSN Construction from Bowmanville, ON has offered to donate the framing labour to rebuild our home.  A local architect assisted in creating the blueprints for our new home. However, we require funds for materials.

PART II:

In 2013, there were 1,240,000 fires reported in the United States. Just between the city where we stay with my parents & the township where our property is, there were 4517 fires, totaling $7,218,508 in damages. I can’t help but wonder & think about how many others were left in the same situation as we were.

We even applied to Habitat For Humanity.  Although we didn't receive a large enough settlement to rebuild & lost nearly half of it to legal expenses, we still received something, so it disqualified us from their program. I also contacted the Toronto Sun. I received a reply stating "I'd love to help but unfortunately I'm up to my eyeballs in insurance stories".  There is nowhere for victims in our situation to turn. I'd like to change that.

What my charity will do:

My dream is to create an organization dedicated to helping victims of fire or any other disaster get back on their feet. How can I assist fire victims but not flood, tornado, etc. victims? The insurance & recovery issues are the same no matter the event. Victims need to know that there are honest people out there to help, with no ulterior motives. Far too often victims are preyed upon by private companies looking to make a profit. My goal is to alleviate the hardships & strains suffered by victims of disasters.  Fires are devastating & take so much more from your life than just your possessions.  It is a long recovery process.

While we will assist with physical needs such as clothing, furniture, basic necessities, etc. to ease the financial burden, we will also offer a helping hand with insurance paperwork and support through counselling.  My goal is to obtain a facility where we can store merchandise & donations. Those in need can come & choose what they require for the first year of getting back on their feet.  They will need different items eight months down the road as compared to what they will need immediately following the disaster. We will create a community for people to connect with others, share their stories & most of all, we will campaign & raise money for them.

I have already created a logo & website called Just Prevail.  I have used it as a tool to pre-launch this campaign since January 2014.  In addition to the 5% that I will be donating, the www.justprevail.com website will become a platform for other survivors from all over the world to share their stories of hardships due to circumstance & a place to campaign for them. I want to help change lives.  It will be a place to prove that “Community Matters & The World Cares.”

The website will also be a Pay It Forward platform.  Each person we campaign for, will do the same as I & donate 5% to charity.  It will be a "Survivors Paying It Forward" concept.

In 2013, people from 65 countries participated in Paying It Forward Day. Imagine if each individual looked for the opportunity to help other each day. Imagine the difference that would make. People are genuinely giving by nature, but many get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I will do my share to create a positive ripple effect.

You may think I am dreaming too big but you have not been through what I have. Nothing can bring me down at this point.  I have been to the bottom & I'm not going back!  The thought of helping others has helped me in my own recovery process.  I have felt broken for so long. This has renewed my faith in kindness & my hope for the future. We will make it together! As the founder of Just Prevail, my tragedy will become a triumph for those in need.

I hope to inspire others and show people in similar situations that tragedy may slow you down but it will not defeat you. Giving up is not an option!

I am already connecting with my community:

  • Throughout the last several years, I have been sharing my story online. Caring people from my community reached out to me & helped to create Foundations of Hope.  We ran a few fundraising events. While it was difficult to raise the amount of funds needed to rebuild an entire home, it did however, help to get out our story out there.                       https://www.facebook.com/foundations.of.hope
  • I have connected with a woman in the United States who just recently created The Fire Relief Foundation. We have spoken about uniting an American & Canadian effort. After losing their home to fire, she & her husband were overwhelmed by the outpour of support from their community. Like myself, they realized how many other victims were out there with little to no support. The FRF assists with paperwork, support & physical needs up to one year. It is exactly what I envision for Just Prevail.
  • Once Upon A Child, is a store that buys & sells gently used kids clothing, shoes, toys and baby gear in my community.  They have come on board with me in anticipation of my non-profit becoming established.  Now when disaster strikes, no child will go without.  Once Upon A Child will donate emergency clothing.  It was four to six weeks before our insurance company even gave us a very small amount of money to replace some things.

Beneficial attributes I bring to my charity:

  • I have been fortunate to connect with some much needed experts in various online industries.  My story touched them and they have been mentors to me. It was suggested that I rebrand from Foundations of Hope to Just Prevail. I've learned how to create digital media and write blogs for my website. I've even started creating inspirational posters with my own quotes. I've begun to learn website design and SEO management.  I'm very proud of the http://www.justprevail.com/ website that I recently re-designed myself.  It was all self taught through online tutorials in a short amount of time.

  • My website currently has over 500 subscribers

  • I have created Twitter & Facebook accounts.  My followers continue to increase daily.  I've connected with people from all walks in life; from firefighters, politicains to authors, activists & ministers...and everyone inbetween! They all offer words of encouragement for my cause.

Social Networks

                                  https://www.facebook.com/justprevail                

                                       https://twitter.com/JustPrevail

                         https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Justprevail1/posts     

            https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSP6Y7qg0sWmKZTlmi5lbz

  • My experiences with the insurance company, inventory lists, appraisal hearings, lawyers, etc will assist anyone new to the process.
  • Although, I am fairly new to the crowdfunding community, I am fiercely enthusiastic about becoming a more active member each day. I have just become a member of the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA). I'm highly motivated & organized with nearly two decades of small business management, event planning, customer service, advertising, sales and marketing strategy experience. I am also experienced in negotiation & networking with other businesses in my community. I am eagerly embracing this challenge. With the additional online skills I've learned this far, I am confident I will make all who contribute proud!  My charity will be successful.

Please support our campaign: 

It is now from the bottom of my heart, with the same certainty I have in myself, that I ask for your confidence to contribute by investing & believing in me. No matter how good my intentions are, I can't do it without you!

When receiving input for our campaign, many people said "Oh, you don't need perks.  You're creating a charity!"

That didn't sit well with me.  This is such a meaningful campaign to me & can create such a powerful difference in peoples lives that I set out to create just as meaningful perks for your generosity & kindness.  I was fortunate to find companies that would work with me with little to no start up capital.  I hope you like them!

With all that my family has been through, I’d like to extend some kindness to those who need a reminder that there IS good in the world. We are all real people, just trying to live a real life. I’m looking forward to the many blessings that greet me on my journey ahead. This has been a life altering experience. I feel such a sense of purpose. 

To all the friends & amazing people who have been with us from the start, those we met along the way, those who have shared our story & to you, reading this right now, it is wonderful to have your support & I thank you with the deepest gratitude. The world needs more people like you.

And even a heartfelt thank you to those insurance companies that are in the 5% & treat their customers with dignity & fairness.  The other 95% should follow your lead!

*I do not own any of the artwork used for inspirational images displayed in this campaign.

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Perks

$1
Public Thanks
  • 1 claimed
With any contribution of $1 or more your name will appear in the scrolling text box on the homepage of our website, thanking you publicly for your contribution.
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$15
Tweet from Just Prevail
  • 1 claimed
With any contribution $15 - $24. I'll send out a Tweet of your choice on Twitter from Just Prevail *Please keep it clean & non-political.
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$25
Just Prevail Bracelet
  • 1 claimed
Receive our 1st edition bracelet with a contribution of $25 - $34. Wear your bracelet as a reminder of your strength & how far you've come, no matter what life throws at you. Pass the kindness on when you see someone who needs that strength to Just Prevail!
*Please add $15 for shipping
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$35
A thank you card designed & coloured by Tyson
  • 0 claimed
With any contribution of $35 - $59, we will mail you a postcard created by Tyson with love, thanking you for your contribution. Please include your mailing address.
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$60
Just Prevail T-Shirt.
  • 0 claimed
With a contribution of $60 - $99 we'll send you our 1st edition t-shirt. Wear the Just Prevail logo proudly! Show everyone you made it happen for the Rees family & will change the lives of so many more! Please add $15 for shipping.
SM MED LG XL XXL *Available in white only.
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$100
Just Prevail Hoody
  • 0 claimed
With a contribution of $100 - $149 we'll send you our first edition hoody! Wear the Just Prevail logo proudly! Show everyone you made it happen for the Rees family & will change the lives of so many more! Please add $15 for shipping.
SM MED LG XL XXL *Available in white only.
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$150
Help Us Set A World Record With Your Signature
  • 0 claimed
With any contribution of $150 - $224, send us your autograph & date it. After all, you are a superstar to us for participating in this campaign! We'll print your signature & date onto a transfer & tattoo the framework of our house. Our goal is to tattoo our home with love. I've applied to set a world record & am awaiting further details! Your contribution will last forever! We'll thank you with a photo of your tattoo on our house via e-card. In the event that you are included with our world record setting, you must include a contact email we can reach you at. (Participating is optional)
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$225
Add A Special Message To Your Signature
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Why not include a special message with your signature? With a contribution of $225 - $499 you can leave your legacy on our walls forever! It can be an encouraging message to The Rees Family, something about yourself or anything else. You choose! We'll thank you with a photo of your message & signature on our house via e-card. In the event you are included in our world record setting, you must include a contact email we can reach you at! (participating is optional)
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$500
Become An Official Sponsor
  • 0 claimed
With any contribution of $500 - $999 you will be a featured partner in kindness on our website for the entire duration of our campaign. Whether you're an individual, business, organization, etc, give us your logo or image & we'll host it on our "Sponsors" page. with a linked URL that will take visitors directly to your website through another tab,. *Please keep it clean & non-political.
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$1,000
Become An Official Founding Benefactor
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Become an officially listed Founding Benefactor on our Non-Profit's commemorative wall plaque & on our website with any contribution of $1000 or more. We'll also send you a commemorative certificate. Be a part of something great & help change lives!
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