Man mak­ing amends sets giv­ing in mo­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Todd Lewys

THIS be­ing the age of elec­tronic mail, tra­di­tional let­ter mail has almost be­come an af­ter­thought. And with most cor­re­spon­dence be­ing done through emails, hand-writ­ten let­ters are a rar­ity th­ese days. It seems the only items that ar­rive in our mail­boxes via the post of­fice are bills, ads and (sigh) just out­right junk. Which is why Chris­tine Friesen, cus­tomer re­la­tions man­ager at Qual­ico Homes, was in­trigued when she re­cently re­ceived a let­ter that con­tained a hand-writ­ten note and — much to her sur­prise — a cheque, of all things. “I was quite taken aback,” she said. “Pretty much all the let­ters I re­ceive are from peo­ple about war­ranties and other con­cerns they might have with their homes, but not this par­tic­u­lar one. I don’t nor­mally re­ceive hand-writ­ten let­ters. And I don’t think I’ve ever re­ceived one that had a cheque in it.” Qual­ico’s man­ager of sin­gle-fam­ily homes, Derek MacDon­ald, said the let­ter quickly made the rounds at Qual­ico’s head of­fice. “Chris­tine showed it to me, we showed it to up­per man­age­ment,” he said. “Ev­ery­one was blown away by the story be­hind the cheque, to say the least.” Turns out the man who penned the let­ter had stolen lum­ber from a Qual­ico job site about 10 years ago. For what­ever rea­son, he felt com­pelled to make amends for his wrong­ful ac­tions, and had writ­ten Qual­ico to come clean — and pay them back for the lum­ber he had so wrong­fully taken. “What this man did goes so above and beyond what he had to do,” said Friesen. “Not only was the let­ter neatly writ­ten, but he sent us a cheque for $800 as com­pen­sa­tion for the lum­ber he’d stolen. It was just a great thing for him to have taken the time, and thought, to do.” Next came the is­sue about what should be done with the money, said MacDon­ald. “We spoke with the pow­ers that be here at Qual­ico, and ev­ery­one felt that cash­ing the cheque just wouldn’t be right,” he said. “So we col­lec­tively made a decision to take the $800 and pay it for­ward.” Not only did Qual­ico pay the money for­ward, but they ac­tu­ally dou­bled it, he added. “Man­age­ment at Qual­ico de­cided to match the amount so we could re­ally pay the $800 for­ward in a mean­ing­ful way. The man didn’t have to hand write a let­ter and in­clude a cheque for more than he took. Ev­ery­one felt that if it was im­por­tant enough to him to do, the only real ac­tion was to match the do­na­tion and give the $1,600 to some­one who could re­ally use it.” Even­tu­ally, it was de­ter­mined Win­nipeg­based Dream Fac­tory, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that brings dreams to life for kids who are bat­tling life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses, would be the re­cip­i­ent. “It just seemed fit­ting to do­nate the money to help the Dream Fac­tory make a child’s wish come true,” MacDon­ald said. “Get­ting the let­ter and find­ing the cheque en­closed made ev­ery­one’s day here at Qual­ico. We all just hope that pay­ing the money for­ward and then-some will make a child’s day. It’s just us do­ing our small part to jump on a good deed and pay it for­ward.” As for the man who sent the let­ter and cheque? “We sent him a let­ter to let him know what his ac­tions brought for­ward,” he said. “He didn’t have to re­deem him­self, but he did. His ac­tions were re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated, and our hope is that a child with a dream will be the ben­e­fi­ciary of his kind ges­ture.” Friesen said those ac­tions fig­ure to have a huge im­pact. “It re­stores your faith in peo­ple,” she said. “It was just such a nice thing to do. It would have been easy for the man to for­get about it. But he didn’t, and now his ac­tions, with a lit­tle help from us, will have helped make a child’s dream come true.”

TODD LEWYS / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Chris­tine Friesen, Qual­ico’s cus­tomer re­la­tions man­ager, holds the hand-writ­ten let­ter that ac­com­pa­nied an $800 cheque sent in by a man who’d

stolen lum­ber from Qual­ico a decade ago.

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