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Community bonds during ice storm clean up in Centre Wellington

Community building - Rob Green, left, an Ariss resident, spent March 25 helping others clean up trees following the ice storm. At his first stop in Elora he had help from other community members, including recently-arrived Syrian refugee Rasheed Zain Al Abedeen.  submitted photo

Community bonds during ice storm clean up in Centre Wellington

by Jaime Myslik

ARISS - In the wake of last week’s ice storm many Wellington County residents responded with enthusiasm to help their neighbours.

One great example of that generosity was Ariss resident Rob Green.

“I was almost prepared for the worst when I woke up that morning, thinking that we would have trees damaged, lost power, but we actually didn’t so I just figured I could try to help anyone else that was in need,” said Green about March 25, the day after the ice storm struck Wellington County and much of southern Ontario.

“I figured people would do the same for me.”

On March 24 Green created a Facebook post on the Elora Community Share page saying “if anyone is in need of firewood, a generator, clean water ... let me know I’m happy to help anyway I can,” he explained.

“I also said ‘if you need chainsaws or whatever.’”

Green, who lives in a rural area and has experience cutting down trees, received about 13 responses and visited four locations on Friday to help clear debris.

His first stop was Elora, one of the area hardest hit by the storm.

“One gentleman messaged me and asked if I could come out because he had a sore back and was unable to clear some branches away from his house,” said Green, who left his house in Ariss at 8am.     

“I just showed up with my chainsaw and my helmet and my gear and started clearing the tree branches with them,” he told the Advertiser.

Worked side by side

“And then some other people came along shortly after that and we all kind of worked side by side just cleaning everything up.”

Once the work was complete and Allan and Bobbye Goldenberg’s property, the group chatted for a bit and Green learned one member of the group was Rasheed Zain Al Abedeen, a Syrian refugee who arrived in Fergus with his family at the end of January.

“I had no idea when we were working side by side,” Green said.

“He was right involved as much as anyone else and then when we were all finished ... his story came out about who he was and how he was fleeing conflict and was in a refugee camp in Jordan for four years with his family and had just recently arrived in Canada, only to come here and help us out.

“So it was a really touching moment.”

Al Abedeen went to the site with Robert Beer and his son Nate who are part of the Syrian family’s sponsorship group.

“He’s anxiously looking for work and he’s keen to do whatever,” said Ingrid Kebbel-Beer who’s also part of the sponsorship group. “He was right in there.”

She continued saying, “I think he’s a hands-on guy, not a study-from-a-book kind of guy, so for him a chance to get outside and help out with something that was a real good thing.”

Green said he wasn’t able to talk with Al Abedeen because of the language barrier, but the two shook hands and Green thanked him.

Just wanted to help

“He was quite interested in my chainsaw to see how it worked and stuff ... he hadn’t seen one before I don’t think,” Green said, adding it was an “amazing thing.”

He explained, “I think so many people are quick to judge what they think a Syrian refugee looks like or how they’re going to act or if they’re good or bad or whatever from what religious background they come from.

“But ... as it proved that day they’re all the same as you and I, (he) just wanted to help out the community in a time of need.”

Green then moved on to two other locations to help with the cleanup, before finishing his day in rural areas.

“I went to a horse farm and helped the lady that was holding an Easter egg hunt for a few hundred kids the next day,” Green said.

“So we just cleared all the downed branches and stuff off of her fence paddocks and the horse paddocks, all that stuff and she was also really thankful.”

Cindy Johnson said before Green came to Travis Hall Equestrian Centre she didn’t know what she was going to do for the Easter egg hunt.

“It surely lifted my spirits about the community that’s for sure,” she told the Advertiser. “I had no idea who Rob was before that.”

She said she responded to Green’s Facebook post and when he arrived she just asked him to help clear specific areas to make them safe for the children the next day.

“A couple hours later he’d gone around all our horse’s paddocks and made sure all our fence lines were clear so my dad didn’t have to worry about anything,” she said.

“We’re trying to figure out a way to pay it forward because without his help we couldn’t have done what we did the next day.”

April 1, 2016


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Bill Green
March 31 2016 | 14:58
We are extremely proud of our son Rob for taking the opportunity to help out others in time of need--which quite honestly did not surprise us--but what did was to learn more about his humanitarian side from his summary of his personal experience with working side by side with one of our new Syrian refugees. Rob summed it up best by saying--"he is part of the community now"... Lynn & Bill Green, Guelph
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April 1 2016 | 10:38
Who on Earth would give a thumbs-down on this story?
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