Life has become much sweeter for Harve and Candy Oliver and their two sons Daniel, 14, and Dylan, 5 – and they are very grateful to everyone who helped.
They have a new home of their own and on March 8 Harve got a full-time job transporting cars for Ford Motor Co.
Things had been bleak for the family, with Harve having no job and the family having no home.
They have been helped by St. Vincent dePaul at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Belleville and an anonymous Van Buren Township donor who plunked down $25,000 to buy a home for the family.
Reg Ion, a volunteer with St. Vincent dePaul, had written a letter to the Independent asking readers for whatever donations they could afford to help the family get on its feet. He said they were close to having to live out of their van.
Ion said he was stunned when a woman called to say she wanted to give money to the Olivers, through Ion, so they could buy a house and not live out of their van. She has not met the family and doesn’t wish to be thanked.
Ion helped the family find a foreclosed home in Wayne for $22,500, leaving some money for insurance, taxes, and a Realtor’s fee. Ion said he learned that the home had sold for $130,000 when it was brand new in 2003 or so.
It took a long time for the sale to be finalized and the certificate of occupancy approved, but finally they were home.
Ion got involved with the family after the Oct. 24 house fire in Sumpter Township that destroyed all of the family’s personal belongings.
The family had lost their Westland home in June and moved in with Candy’s parents in Westland for a while and then in with Harve’s parents Janice and Harve Oliver, Sr. at 19831 Sumpter Road.
That was the house that erupted in flames while the elder Olivers were at church and the younger family was visiting Candy’s parents for a couple of days. Only the dog, Lady, was at home and Sumpter fire fighters saved her.
The family had a few pieces of furniture in storage, but all their personal belongings not taken for the brief outing to Westland were lost in the fire. The Jr. Olivers’ things were not covered by the Sr. Olivers’ insurance.
Sumpter Township Fire Chief Les Powell said everything in the house was lost and the cause was considered accidental, having started near the water heater.
While the Sr. Olivers were put up in the Van Buren Township Hampton Inn by their insurance company, the Jr. Olivers were at the Super 8 in Canton, courtesy of St. Vincent de Paul which was able to pay for their housing for a short time.
Harve Oliver, Jr. said St. Vincent de Paul also made arrangements for some clothing and the Clothes Closet at the Kmart shopping center provided a few things for the children. Another generous reader took the family out for a shopping spree at Kohl’s to buy them all some new clothes.
Harve Oliver, Jr. was a self-employed roofer, who went into business for himself more than four years ago after working as a contracted employee for Barnett Roofing. Lately, he had been trying to get whatever work he could.
He said this was the worst time of his life since Easter Sunday, 1995, when his two oldest children were killed in a traffic accident in Dearborn.
“I compare 2010 to that year,” he said, noting that he doted on his older children who would be 18 and 19 now.
Harve got his new job after Ion urged him to pray about it. Ion also helped it along by giving Harve an excellent reference, explaining that Harve is a very hard worker.
Now everything is falling together for the family, Ion said.
Ion also points out that the family’s new home, appropriately, is on Grace Street.