BERWICK - People from across the country are rallying around Adrian Allen after what was supposed to be a time of celebration took a tragic turn.
Vancouver resident Mary-Jo Dionne was in the same graduating class as Allen at the West Kings District High School in Auburn. She reconnected with her former classmate on social media five years ago.
”I haven't seen Adrian since 1990, sadly. However, when I knew him he was famously kind and warm and always very funny,” she wrote in a recent e-mail to Kings County News.
“He was soft-spoken and well-liked. Adrian was one of those people you couldn't really say anything bad about. Everyone liked him.”
She followed Allen on social media and enjoyed seeing posts about the life he built with his wife and their young son, Ben.
“I recently saw a post that announced they were having a second child and I was legitimately thrilled for them. All of Adrian and Angelina's posts were about how blessed they are - to have found one another, to have little Ben, to have created the life that they had.”
Dionne vividly remembers the moment she learned Allen’s world had been rocked by the sudden loss of his wife and their newborn son.
“My heart sank when, about three weeks ago, I logged onto to social media, and saw Adrian's announcement - it was an expression of gratitude to all the people who had shown he and Ben compassion and support since the sudden passing on May 1 of Angelina, while giving birth to their new baby. This sweet little guy, they named him Finley, died six days later,” she said.
“The enormity of the tragedy hit me - way over here on the other coast. I wanted to mobilize the troops so that we could collect funds for Adrian and Ben to have at least enough for three months of groceries. Adrian and Ben have bigger fish to fry right now than worrying about details like that - they need to focus on each other and just feel loved and supported.”
Dionne issued a call for help to her old West Kings connections and new network in Vancouver. The response was nothing short of heartwarming.
“We raised enough for 3-months groceries within an hour of my social media post, it was shared wildly. And we raised enough for six months of groceries within 24 hours,” she said.
“I have started a card that I am sending to Adrian. It has the names of everyone who contributed to this collection - more than 80 names from across Canada, and as far away as Florida and California.”
Dionne contacted Dexter and Kim at Berwick Foodland, and the business started to see an influx of patrons purchasing Foodland gift cards for Allen to pick up during his next visit to the store.
“Adrian took a photo of the pile of gift cards. It's a nice sight to see, (a) tangible reminder for Adrian that he is not alone.”
The fundraisers continue to ensure Allen, owner of Orchards Away Daycare, does not have to fret about resources at a time when he must focus on his son, his health and his business.
The support and generosity shown thus far has served a source of strength for Allen.
“Through this unimaginable time, I believe it was the love and support of my family, friends, and community that has kept me standing,” he said.
“There was a time one morning while at the IWK I was roaming the grounds when I heard someone call my name; it was an old co-worker. She took me in to the cafeteria, fed me, talked awhile and even slipped me a pre-paid card for the cafeteria.”
The love coming his way is making a difference,
“There are so many people that have helped me through this ordeal - too many to even think of thanking everyone - but please know how thankful and grateful we are for all you have done,” he said.
“I plan on raising my son here and instilling in him the strong moral code with which I was raised, and that keeps Berwick the great town it is.”
Two ways to help Adrian Allen:
- Purchase a Foodland gift card at the store in Berwick and request that it be left for Adrian and Ben Allen.
- Donate online through the ongoing GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/supportfor-angelina039s-family?member=143252