Farmers and first responders contribute to what we hold very dear in our communities; food and safety for our families and loved ones. The vital contributions made by these men and women at times come at great cost to their own physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing and that of their families. We are so glad you joined us here at Three Oaks; a place of respite for farmers and first responders - a place to address those difficulties in their lives and begin a journey of healing.
Born out of immense loss, we pray that this respite cabin project will offer hope and rest for many on their journey. That will be our joy and healing. At times there are no words to adequately describe the unexpected path we find ourselves on. After our son and brother, Dalles, passed away by suicide on November 23 2020, we felt moved to help others who might be struggling. Initial plans for a respite cabin started in January of 2021. It offered a spark of hope and a beginning of healing for our family.
The year 2022 brought many momentous steps forward in our journey. We were guided through the process of telling the story of Three Oaks by the fantastic team at Compass Creative. This included the design of our logo and the development of a website. Our logo, an acorn, represents a seed for future growth and hope. The oak tree has long been an emblem of strength and endurance. The acorn is enveloped by three oak leaves. The number three holds deep significance in our family as Dalles was our third son, and he was the proud #3 firefighter on the Dawn Euphemia Fire Department. The number three also represents our God-given blessing and duty within our communities. There is strength in friendship. Relationships and friendships within our communities gives us much needed assurance and encouragement. Ultimately God created us with a need for Him and community and we are so grateful for the people and communities we are blessed with. Ecclesiastes 4:12).
As 2022 progressed there are a few events and successes we would like to highlight. The process to acquire necessary permits to build in a woodlot was daunting and had been ongoing since the summer of 2021. A thorough Environmental Impact Study was completed to ensure that all species of animals and vegetation in the woodlot were properly researched preserved. The application to become a registered charity in the spring was successful and we were thrilled to know by late August that we were granted status to operate as such.
With the generous help of the people at Henry Heyink Construction and Schouten Excavation, we were able to start the project with laneway and site clearing in October. As an extra bonus the excavator operator happened to be “Big Cousin Bill,” and his extra big hug on that emotional day was balm for the soul. An astounding rainbow arched over the building site as the first loads of gravel were being delivered on that ground-breaking day, which was reassurance that we are on the right track.
The logs for the cabin arrived a few days later, on a beautiful fall day.
In November we breathed a huge sigh of relief when we received word that our building permit had been approved. It was the last but formidable hurdle to getting the green light to build.
Since then, we have been so encouraged by the generosity of people in our families and communities. Henry Heyink Construction was back out and joined by McCann Concrete to grade and build up the site. The Township of Dawn Euphemia made it possible for the water line to be hooked up. Crews from LT Mechanical spent their free time to install the plumbing for in-floor heat and New Years’ Day found the wonderful people of Tamminga Electric working hard to finish the electrical work that needed to be installed prior to the concrete being poured for the slab.
The weather in southwestern Ontario has reminded us in the past two weeks that we are in the dead of winter, but if the weather predictions are correct, we hope that the concrete can be poured early next week during a well-timed January thaw.
So how do we sum up 2022? There were certainly sorrowful days; birthdays, and anniversaries that in the past would have been days of celebration. On those days the loss of Dalles was keenly felt and the many tears ran freely. However, we have had to be intentional about reminding ourselves and each other that while Dalles is no longer here, hope is never lost because it is securely anchored our faith of a future, sweet reunion.
Our tragedy is being transformed into a way to serve others in need and our loss can be partially filled by meeting others on their journey through life’s valleys. Along with the continuing loss, we also felt so much love and blessing and support from many wonderful people; people in our family, our church family, our community and from businesses and total strangers. People who with generosity of well-spoken words or generosity of time, or building material have encouraged us and enabled us to make great progress in our dream of Three Oaks becoming a physical reality.
So, we move forward with hope, accompanied with the love and support of many in the various communities around us. We eagerly anticipate all that 2023 will bring and we move forward with confidence and hope, knowing our future and our dreams are secure in the One who holds all things.
Please stay tuned and keep in touch, we treasure your company on the way.