Man making amends sets giving in motion
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.”
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.