Need dishes, breakfast, a ride, then this Nisga’a philanthropist wants to help.
Magaret Wesley, or Maggie, went through her own gauntlet and when the kindness of others helped her through, she is now paying it forward.
“Always think of others before you think of yourself,” she said. This was how she was raised. The youngest of 10 kids, born in Prince Rupert, her family moved to Terrace when she was just three years old.
Maggie doesn’t give to others for attention or publicity, but recently her and her husband David helped the victims of the Fulton Street residential fire on June 6, and they agreed to share their story.
They’re still giving to the families who were displaced by the fire. First they delivered socks to a family who was in the hospital for smoke inhalation, then last Tuesday, June 13, David and Maggie gave one family bunk beds.
“I told them, if there’s anything they need, don’t hesitate to call,” she said.
When the fire in the apartment building on Second Avenue West on Boxing Day 2016, Maggie’s son lost everything, and she helped him get back on his feet. Family, friends, strangers she helps them all the same.
She had been there herself once. In her twenties, she hit rock bottom herself. She had never drank, swore or smoked until her first husband left her and within a six month period she tried everything she could get her hands on. As life spiralled out of control, at 25 years old, she tried to take her own, and succeeded.
But doctors brought her back to life, and they gave her two options — either go home to her family or be committed.
“That was my wake up call, I’ve been clean ever since,” she said. That was nearly 30 years ago.
But her trials continued. As a single mother raising two children she struggled to put food in the fridge.
“I think my eyes really opened about helping when I was a single mom, on my own, living on assistance and I had in my cupboards a package of oatmeal and about four carrots in my fridge and there was nobody coming,” she said.
With two children to feed, she didn’t let her pride get in the way of asking for help. Friends stepped forward and offered her affordable rent and bags of groceries. Now that she’s in the position to help others she gives and gives.
For 15 years she lived in Winnipeg. Each morning on her way to work at FedEx, she would see the same homeless man asking for change at the bus stop and she would buy him breakfast. She fed him for two and a half years until he disappeared.
But the woman with a big heart, doubled in size when she moved back to Terrace and met her childhood crush, who also happened to feel the need to help others.
In 2011, after her fill of two rough relationships, she was in the courthouse when she met David. Both were finalizing the end of their marriages, and single, free, they hit it off. They had met in their youth and hadn’t seen each other in 42 years.
On Easter weekend 2012, they moved to Prince Rupert with 15 truck loads of their belongings and have embedded their kindness into the community ever since. She has volunteered with the elders group at the Friendship House and with the youths in the Captain Cook Sea Cadets.
“I think why David and I get along so well, is that we love to help people. We just love to see someone else smile,” she said.
“Last year, David and I started putting goodie bags together and we find the homeless and we give it to them. We’re going to do it every year. Even if we have too much stuff in our home, if there’s food we know we don’t need, we’ll put in goodie bags,” she said.
Between her and David they have 13 grandchildren, and she has also fostered children and taken in pregnant teens who need a safe place to stay.
“I’m just one of those people that if I see someone in need I’m going to try to help them the best way I can,” she said.
Maggie hasn’t told her David yet, but in August she’s coming into some money, and she plans to buy TVs for the families who were displaced by the fire on Fulton Street. She knows a TV is just one item that will need to be replaced, but it’s something to show that people care.