Clover Valley church asks community’s help to recoup losses after devastating fire

CLOVER VALLEY—While the people of Little Current are dealing with the end result of five fires in a little over two months, the Deforge family of Clover Valley is also the recent victim of fire that tore through the Homeland Missions workshop/storage facility, a personal vehicle and destroyed two five-ton reefer trucks—a very crucial piece of the mission’s puzzle that sees many people from across Manitoulin and the North Shore who are in need of a helping hand given just that.

Rodney Deforge, who heads Homeland Missions, said he woke up at approximately 1 am on Sunday, August 10 to an orange glow very visible through his bedroom window. When he ran to the window he saw that the storage shed was engulfed in flames. After evacuating his wife and children, Mr. Deforge said he tried to save the two trucks, but it was too late. One was in use while the other, a spare, did not have insurance.

“The fire started in the shop, and was most likely electrical,” Mr. Deforge said. “It was deemed not suspicious by the fire department, as it was an older building.”

The fire is particularly devastating as there are many people on Manitoulin who rely on Homeland Missions and the work they do, including a meals on wheels program that services 84 elderly people in the community from the fall until April. “All for free,” Mr. Deforge said.

“We lost all of our equipment: pots, pans, etcetera,” he added. “We’re really scared that the program will be lost.”

Mr. Deforge said the program began when Homeland Missions learned that there are many senior citizens in the area who do not get proper nourishment, especially during the winter months when the weather keeps them from venturing outside.

“The meals are between two and two-and-a-half pounds, which usually lasts for more than one meal,” Mr. Deforge said. Twenty-six volunteers help to run the meals on wheels program. “It’s run through the church (Cornerstone Christian Assembly), but it’s a real community initiative.”

Money owed on the reefer truck means that, once the truck is paid in full, the insurance payout would not cover the cost of a new vehicle.

“We run our food bank through the truck too,” he added.

“So many people have been blessed by that truck,” Mr. Deforge said. “I was just in tears. Not over the building, but the truck. It’s just a piece of tin but it meant so much to so many families. Without the truck, it will affect the entire community and the North Shore.”

He shared some of the other good works Homeland Missions does in the community, including making over 400 back to school bags for high schoolers that comes complete with paper, binders, pens and more. These bags are left discreetly at the schools’ office for anyone who needs them.

All of the Island schools, if they ask the mission, are also welcome to take what they need from Homeland’s 53-foot trailer stocked with school supplies. Teachers can also help outfit their classrooms thanks to this trailer.

“In the last two weeks, we helped between 25 and 30 teachers put stuff in their classrooms, all absolutely free,” he said.

The trailer is also open to churches or other Island organizations that could benefit from free stationary. Homeland Missions will not approach you, however, you must come to them.

Teachers also use Homeland Missions when they worry that a child in their class may not have enough to eat. Through the mission’s food bank, anonymous parcels may be left at the home of the child to help the parents with their family food requirements. They have also partnered with the Childrens’ Aid Society in this way too.

The mission has also given much to the area hockey associations, horticultural groups and more by way of prizes as Homeland Missions has a steady supply of kids’ toys at their disposal.

To help raise funds to purchase new equipment and to go towards the purchase of a new truck for Homeland Missions, Cornerstone Christian Assembly is asking the Manitoulin Island community for donations. Cheques for $10 or more will be given a charitable tax receipt and can be sent to: Cornerstone Christian Assembly, 159 5th Sideroad, Tehkummah, Ontario, P0P 2C0.