A drive-by act of kindness changes one life

One woman sets out to help another that she found walking alone along Highway 97.

Brandi Mahood’s New Year’s resolution is to be kinder in 2017, and there is at least one person who is glad Brandi is sticking to her commitment.

On Dec. 29, 2016, Brandi spotted a woman walking along Highway 97 near Armstrong dragging a garbage bag – it was snowing and starting to get dark at the time.

“They were walking really slow, I didn’t know if it was a man or a woman, but I couldn’t just drive by them,” said Brandi.

She pulled over on the side of the road to offer the person a ride.

“When I stopped I realized it was an elderly lady,” explained Brandi. “She is 74-years-old and her name is Loretta Louie, and she is homeless.”

Loretta’s story broke Brandi’s heart, the woman had been on the street for more than 10 years. On her way in to Armstrong at the time, Loretta was headed to a laundromat to wash a dirty frozen blanket — the same blanket she had been using to sleep with under the steps of a local church.

“I was concerned so I gave her a ride and that is when she told me she is a residential school survivor with no family.”

Brandi dropped Loretta off at the church, but that wouldn’t be the last time she saw the older woman. Instead Brandi made it her mission to try and help Loretta.

“I went home and got her a new blanket, some clothes and money for hot food, but she told me she didn’t want a hand out,” said Brandi.

She discovered Loretta had been spending her time between an old shed and the church steps, alone, even during the holidays.

“She told me she is too scared to go to the shelters, she had been beat up once at a rooming house. She had stuff stolen from her and doesn’t trust the local shelters.”

Brandi managed to earn Loretta’s trust, at which time the woman asked for help.

Turning to social media, Brandi posted a message to her Facebook page asking friends and family for donations to assist Loretta.

“I asked for $20 from those who could spare it, and we got enough money to rent a room at a hotel in Enderby,” she explained.

Thanks to the good nature of the Sleep Right Inn in Enderby the price was lowered extending Loretta’s stay to two weeks.

When the two weeks are up, Brandi doesn’t know what will happen.

“This woman was in really bad shape when I saw her, she is not an alcoholic or a drug addict. She was dirty and did smell bad when I first met her,” said Brandi. “She is just a really sweet lady that just needs some help.”

After several good night’s sleeps, hot meals, showers and the kindness of others – Loretta looks and feels like a different person.

Now Brandi is hoping to get Loretta permanent housing and is in contact with the John Howard Society of BC, as well as a local social worker.

“After the 19th I don’t know what will happen, it’s just up in the air,” said a tearful Brandi.

She is hoping that Loretta’s story will spark kindness in others and more will want to help with this elderly lady’s situation.

To contact Brandi about Loretta please contact: Brandimahood@gmail.com.