Rendered uninhabitable, the house on Dow Road is being restored. While the work is being carried out, largely by volunteers, the Shermans are living in a camper in their driveway with their two dogs.
That is why the New Minas Rotary Club is holding a fundraiser for the couple on Friday, Oct. 13 at the Millett Centre in New Minas.
The club has stepped up with funds and project management support for the rebuild. The Rotarians have committed $15,000, plus club member Caleb Howden of Denim Homes is acting as project manager.
He and Gary Morse of Morse Construction have gone to their regular suppliers for donations of building materials and supplies. A group of tradesmen have also been organized to donate their services.
Meanwhile the couple, who were married in June, are living without amenities like plumbing and heat. Temperatures are beginning to dip below zero.
Derek Sherman says they are grateful for all the help they are receiving, but they can’t wait to be back living in their home.
Heather Hennigar, who is president of the New Minas Rotarians, says the project is basically like building a house.
“People in the trades are busy working,” she noted, “the drywall is almost done.”
Timing for drywall and plumbing replacements to get heat and water back on is critical, she indicated.
“We’re trying our best to get them back in there,” Hennigar said. “The house is going to be a real asset, a lovely little home, when it’s done.”
Hennigar says there may be some retired tradespeople who might want to contribute their skills in order to finish the rebuild before too much cold weather sets in.
“We’ve had some good, good people contribute, but there is still work to be done.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer can call Hennigar at 542-9530. The Oct. 13 benefit dance features music by the Al King Band. It starts at 7 p.m.
Neighbours helping neighbours
The Sherman’s neighbours stepped up right after the fire to help clean out the home and assist in the rebuild.
Community Services Committee chair Jim Winsor says folks in the Sherman’s neighbourhood really came around them and have been helping out in various ways. He says the rebuild is “truly a project of Rotary and community compassion and generosity.”
After the blaze as many as 19 volunteers gathered to gut the Sherman’s Dow Road house to see what might be salvaged. Neighbour Rosaire Blais said the wave of volunteers happened organically. He crossed the road with his generator and also placed a sign near Commercial Street. Before long helpers just turned up.
A Dow Road resident took the couple’s clothing home and washed them, said Blais. She also made lunch for the volunteers and baked cookies.
One child in the neighbourhood wanted to contribute, so she took a baggie door-to-door and collected about $200, he noted.
Two dogs recovering well now
The Sherman’s three-year-old dog Achilles was the most injured during the fire. Burns on his head are mending.
Achilles suffered seizures and ended up back at the vet clinic a second time, while Orion, their two-year-old pit bull, was not impacted by the blaze.
The couple indicated that job insecurity had forced them into a situation where their house insurance lapsed. Derek Sherman said he lost his job last December when Sarsfields closed, but several months ago he obtained new work.