Restoring more than just a home

Home Team Project picks Phyllis Sharpe for their first project in Maple Ridge

Restoring more than just a home

Phyllis Sharpe was hit with more than just the smell of a warm apple pie when she walked into her renovated home last week.

Cheered on by a long line of volunteers who’d spent three days fixing up her townhouse, the scent of cinnamon, sweet apple and a crisp crust brought back a memory.

It reminded her of a trip to a museum in Victoria with her children, now grown up, where a century-old kitchen was recreated, filled with the mouth-watering aroma of an apple pie.

“It reminded me of good times,” says Sharpe, who then sat down to eat a piece of pie with her parents.

“We just reflected on what had gone on and how beautiful it was.”

A lot had happened inside Sharpe’s Maple Ridge townhome in a span of three days.

The scuffed parquet flooring was removed, dull paint stripped of walls, holes fixes, pipes sealed and piles of stuff – collected over years – removed.

It took volunteers from the Cornerstone Seventh-day Adventist Church 15 trips to the dump to clear her house.

Helped by 10 students and two teachers from the Parkview Adventist Academy in Alberta, who gave up a week of their spring break to travel to B.C., the team worked day and night to paint, patch holes and redecorate Sharpe’s home.

The church has completed seven similar home-makeover projects in Coquitlam since its started the Home Team.

Pastor Stevan Mirkovich says the Home Team projects are a concrete way to live out their faith.

“It’s because Christianity stands for restoration of the whole person,” he explains.

“Often times we’ve receive a bad rap for just being concerned about a person’s spiritual well-being. There is just so much brokenness in this world, it is easy for us to remain self-absorbed and unaware of it. When it’s right here in your own backyard, it behoves us to do something, make a difference – at least a little one.”

Sharpe’s townhouse is the first renovation the Home Team has done in Maple Ridge.

Nominated by her brother Les Hobson, she was a deserving candidate, a grandma and widow who took in two grandchildren when their parents fell on hard times.

Now 62, Sharpe spent most of her 50s struggling to make ends meets and care for her granddaughter and grandson, all this while recovering from open heart surgery. She wiped out her retirement savings because she was unable to work while the kids were toddlers.

“I wasn’t putting them in care. That wasn’t an option,” said Sharpe, whose grandchildren have since moved out and live with their parents.

“It’s been a long haul, but it’s been worth it.”

Although both grandchildren have been gone for five years, Sharpe has found it hard to part with their memories. She kept their toys, books and clothes.

In January, she had a full-knee replacement, but is back at work five days a week at Burger King in Abbotsford as a manager.

“I would love to retire, but financially I can’t,” Sharpe says, still believing she didn’t deserve the makeover that has transformed her house into one she is now proud of.

The walls are painted in variations of beige and there is new bamboo flooring throughout.

Her favourite place is the living room, with its beige and chocolate feature wall and carpet in the sitting area, so she has somewhere warm to place her feet.

She got a new loveseat, coffee table and her French provincial chair has been reupholstered.

She can finally use her patio, now that’s it cleared of junk. Her empty planter boxes have bright coloured flowers.

“You walk in the house and it echoes now, because there is not a whole lot of stuff,” says Sharpe.

“It’s night and day. It’s just wonderful to say the least.”