May 12 is Nurses Day, and Stephen ‘Dusty’ Roberts, the owner of Luv-A-Rug is offering free rug washing for nurses.
Roberts’ wife, Robin, is herself an RN working in Victoria.
“She’s been a nurse for 20 years and we’ve seen the nursing crisis become worse every year. There are many times when she has to work double shifts, just to ensure that there are enough people available to care for the people who need them.”
So Roberts came up with a way to give back with the free rug washes.
“We’ll also be providing free rug washing for anyone who comes in and makes a donation to a GoFundMe account that we’ve set up to help pay the expenses for a young Filipina who wants to come to Canada to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse,” Roberts said.
On a trip to the Philippines, Roberts and his wife met a family who were living in the resort town where they were staying.
The mother and three children (two young boys and an 18-year-old daughter) were living in abject poverty that had only been exacerbated by the loss of tourism that had resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The family was facing eviction from their hut and was subsisting on a government allotment of three litres of rice per week.
Roberts contacted a Danish NGO to help assess the status of the family and confirmed that the situation was even worse than it appeared.
“Even the hut from which they were being evicted was contaminated with mould and mildew since the roof leaked horribly and now, they wouldn’t even have that,” Roberts said.
Roberts and his wife stepped up to help the family secure a decent house to live in, as well as funding the purchase of a tuk-tuk (a sort of rickshaw used for taxi rides). That provided the family with a home and a modest source of income for the future.
“But then, on our last visit, we got a call from one of the brothers asking for help. It seemed that his brother was very ill with a stomach ache and his condition seemed to be getting worse,” Roberts said.
“They couldn’t afford to get medical care, so we paid to get him to a hospital where we found that he had acute appendicitis. He could have died.”
With that situation resolved, Roberts took the time to speak to the daughter, Francine.
“I asked her what she wanted in the world, more than anything else,” Roberts said.
“She told me that she wanted to be a nurse so she could help people, just like my wife had helped her brother.”
That’s when Roberts decided to make that dream come true.
Roberts set up the GoFundMe page and has resolved to personally pay for some of the costs required to bring Francine to Canada where she can attend school to become a nurse.
“It’s something we can do and it’s something that our community can do to make a difference for this family and for others in the same situation,” Roberts said.
Rugs can be brought to Luv-A-Rug, 445 Beta St., on Friday and donations for Francine can be made at gofundme.com/f/luvafilipina-nurse-scholarship-fund.
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