Susan Smith’s laughter is infectious. Over the past two years, she has had to be remarkably resilient, yet she’s kept her winning sense of humour through incredible hardship.

In 2017, wildfires swept through Boston Flats, a community just outside of Cache Creek, B.C. Susan’s home, along with many others, were completely destroyed. Susan remembers it all happening very suddenly.

“We were in town shopping. I was standing, talking to the pharmacist, and we saw this big puff of black smoke. We thought someone’s house was burning. We didn’t know it was a wildfire yet,” says Susan.

When Susan returned home, she was met by RCMP who told her a wildfire was coming, fast. She and her husband Gary had to grab what they could and evacuate to Cache Creek, only to be evacuated once again shortly afterward.

“That’s when we knew it was bad,” says Susan. “We lost everything. And I mean...everything.”

Susan Smith, finding laughter even amidst tragedyGary and Susan were forced to start over. The process of recovery took time and, eventually, they found themselves in a new space to call their home.

But, months later, Susan was forced to be resilient again. Gary, or Paps as she calls him affectionately, passed away. The heartbreak was indescribable.

“He got to enjoy our home,” says Susan. “And I know that he would never have left me, but he knew I would be okay with the help from the Red Cross.”

Susan and Gary received Red Cross support while evacuated and financial assistance to help in their recovery as they moved into their new home. While Susan is very grateful for the financial support, it’s the people she will remember the most.

“What you get in the end is worth it. You get the friendship from the people at the Red Cross, because that’s what I find [I valued], is the friendship and the compassion that people have.”

For Susan, someone she could count on to listen compassionately during the most difficult time in her life, was priceless.