Family lost home in Grove to Valentine's Day fire
DANSVILLE — After a fire engulfed their log home on Valentine’s Day, a local family lost everything.
On Sunday the community gathered at CB Bar and Grill to support the Wester family. The structure in Grove was home to Sherrie Canfield, her boyfriend, Chris Wester, Sherrie’s 15-year-old daughter Alexis Mattison, and their seven-month-old daughter Brooklyn Wester.
The three dogs lost in the fire, Bo, Prince and Paris, were like part of the family and will be truly missed.
A couple of good friends came decided to put on a benefit in order to raise enough money for a down payment on another dream home for the family. This spaghetti dinner, basket raffle, bake sale, and 50/50 was a huge success.
Jason Jennings and Chris Mitchell play in a softball league with Chris Wester. They have been very good friends for about a decade.
“I have known Chris for a long time, and after seeing what he went through I wanted to help,” Jennings said. “We wanted to surprise him with a benefit of our own.”
Mitchell added that over 50 people donated baskets and gift certificates to the benefit.
“Chris’ mom, Bonnie, decided to make all the baked goods for a bake sale too,” he said. “I drove around and collected all the baskets for the benefit. All of the money we get today goes to Chris and his family.”
Mitchell said he hoped that they could raise at least $10,000 so that the family could put a down payment on another log home.
Jennings and Mitchell reached out to Crystal Burns about having the benefit at CB Bar and Grill.
“Chris went back to his old house in Dansville. He had lost all of his stuff in the fire, but his old house hadn’t been sold yet. The next day he had several trucks bringing him furniture, clothes, food, and everything else,” Jennings said. “We just want to do what we can for Chris, because we know he would do the same thing for any of us.”
Billie Chappell, Jennings’ girlfriend, said she grew up with Wester’s son Coty. She felt led to help the family any way she could.
“We reached out to Coty and Chris and asked what was needed,” she said. “We had a lot of things to give them. There were several bags of clothes for Brooklyn and Alexis.”
Chappell said this is the worst thing that could happen to such a good family.
“They are shocked by all of the support they have gotten,” she said. “Chris is the greatest guy and he has a huge heart. He will always have his Dansville family. We are all available to help.”
Burns said that when the guys came to her and asked to use the restaurant for the benefit, she was happy to do it.
“Chris (Wester) is my brother’s best friend. He is a really great guy, and we are happy to help him,” she said. “It took us about a week to get this all together.”
Shayna Lafaye grew up with Wester’s son, Hunter, and said the family has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support.
“I think it is amazing how a community like this has come together. They are here for a family who has lost everything,” she said. “They have been very overwhelmed with all of the donations so far.”
Canfield said that she is amazed by the support of the entire community for her family.
“We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us during this time. We have awesome friends and family,” she said. “The American Red Cross gave us money for food and shelter that night, but thankfully Chris still owned a house in Dansville. We have had donations dropped off at the house all week.”
Wester said that five years ago the community was there for him with his heart condition, and now they are here for him again.
“I was so thankful to still have my Dansville home. We had only been at the log home for a few months. The Dansville house was not on the market yet, so we were able to move back in,” he said. “When we moved back in we had nothing. Now it looks like we never walked out. Within two days the house had been fully furnished by generous people.”
Wester still would like to get back to the country dream house, but right now he is focusing on taking care of his family.
“The dogs were like my kids, and it is going to take a long time to heal from that. The little ones would always sleep on top of my head,” he said. “I really miss them. We had really great neighbors up there too, and it really was my dream home.”
Canfield said that her daughter Alexis’ school in Canaseraga is still working on fundraisers for the family as well. Little baby Brooklyn is having a hard time adjusting to the new home, Wester added.
Both of the places of employment for Wester and Canfield gave them donations as well. They are both grateful to their coworkers and bosses for that kindness.
“This is why I love being from a small town, because we are there for one another,” Wester said. “We even had a lady from Kansas who was visiting local family come and give us a brand new TV. She just stopped by the house, gave us a hug, and handed us the TV. We have had about 50 people like that who I never met before help us out. It really restores my faith in humanity.”
Right now the only thing the family is lacking is the medical supplies needed for Wester’s health conditions.