Crossroads Hub: A Place for Hot Meals and Hope for Residents Impacted by Flooding
After record-breaking rainfall caused devastating flooding in Sumas Prairie late last year, residents quickly jumped into action to support their neighbours. Alison Arends, a long-term resident of Sumas Prairie and owner of Crossroads Dairy with her husband John Arends, is an excellent example of one of those community members.
When the flooding initially started, Alison helped evacuate her mother and father-in-law to Rosedale. Little did she know that her property would become a hub for disaster relief efforts while she was away.
Alison returned home after five days to truckloads of food and water coming and going from her home. Her daughter-in-law had already been cooking meals for impacted residents for a few days. This is when Crossroads Hub was born, a location where flood victims could stop in for a hot meal and grab necessities like bottled water and cleaning supplies. Before they knew it, they were serving hot lunches Monday to Saturday, thanks to at least 15 different volunteers who supplied meals on a rotating basis. Any leftovers are packed up and put in the freezer as to-go meals.
After about three months, some of the farming on Sumas Prairie resumed, including that on Alison’s dairy farm. This meant that she could no longer use her shop as a gathering space. Thankfully, she found another local farm that offered their shop. The only challenge was finding the funding to cover expenses. Alison shared that she has been denied funding countless times by organizations because she didn’t have a charitable registration number.
Thankfully, with a little creativity, the Abbotsford Disaster Relief Fund (ADRF) was able to help in this situation. Through the ADRF’s charitable organization stream, we provided a grant to the Gateway Church in Abbotsford, which then provided funding to Crossroads Hub to cover expenses. This would not be possible without the support of our partners, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and the University of the Fraser Valley, as well as the generous businesses and individuals who donated more than $4 million to the fund.
Although the funding and community support have been so helpful, Alison says she knows of at least 100 residents who are still not back in their homes. She shared that these residents are either waiting for money to complete repairs or waiting for repair services. Many immigrant workers also returned this spring to learn that their living accommodations were missing many of the essentials like furniture and kitchen appliances despite being repaired.
When asked what stood out to her throughout this experience, Alison simply said “the people.” She shared that folks are still struggling from the trauma of the flooding and that “when she sees it in their eyes, she feels it”. From her experience, some of the best therapy has come from residents sharing their challenges over a hot lunch. She does her best to give hope to those struggling and always encourages residents to get professional help if needed.
Alison also shared that the generosity of the community has been incredible. From local restaurants providing meals to churches donating large kitchen appliances, there has been no shortage of support throughout her time running Crossroads Hub.
Although disaster relief efforts are not over for many residents who are still in the process of repairing and rebuilding, it is time for Crossroads Hub to close. Alison reports that April 30th will be Crossroads Hub’s last day of operation as the farm is set to resume farming in May. She is planning a farewell barbeque to bring the community together one last time at the hub, to celebrate the challenges they have faced and hurdles they have overcome together over the past six months.
To learn more about the ADRF’s charitable organization funding stream, click here.
To learn more about the ADRF’s businesses and farmers funding steam, click here.