During a dark and difficult time, there is a ray of light for one Ottawa woman, whose need to complete a home renovation has been met with a gift of the heart from a contractor who wants to share his kindness and expertise.

When Tina Paquin and her husband Christian moved to their Rockland, Ont. house in December 2019, the couple were up to the challenge of tackling the fixer-upper. They wanted it to be the family's forever home.

"We ripped all the floorings out and on the ceiling there was two inches of icicles and my husband had to rip it all off," says Tina Paquin. "And we did it ourselves. It was a labour of love, you know we did everything together just like we did in life."

The following summer, their life took a dramatic turn. Christian was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer.

The focus shifted from repairs to recovery but one year later, Christian was faced with a further complication, his cancer had spread to his brain, and surgery was required.

"My husband was hospitalized at the end of June the day after our 20th wedding anniversary," says Paquin, who praises the excellent care and compassion received by healthcare providers.

"On Oct. 9 we learned that he had (a short time) to live and my husband's wish was to come home and with the doctors help we were able to bring him home."

The Paquin's son was also in the midst of moving home. The apartment where he had been living was sold, forcing him to leave. Tina and Christian wanted to complete the basement bathroom and install a shower. A contractor would be needed.

"I contacted Edgar and he came in and provided me with a quotation."

When Lavergne Home Improvement Renovations owner, Edgar Lavergne arrived at the Paquin's house to appraise the job, he learned of the family’s situation. 

That evening Lavergne decided to donate his time. He and his team, as well as an electrician, would provide all the work, and most of the products free of charge.

"Something told me we wanted to do something good for the community and also really help her out," says Lavergne. "They got hit with this and knowing that she has to come and still be here and try to move forward it’s been very emotional."

Paquin, grateful, says the couple were able to pick many of the bathroom finishes together and that Christian was able to see some of the progress.

"There was no bad days, that was his saying," says Paquin. "Christian was so grateful for all the care and everything that was provided to him."

Christian Paquin passed away in late November. He was 56.

For Tina, the past few months have been difficult, but says Lavergne’s gift of generosity continues to lift her spirit and provide support throughout this time.

"Edgar, thank you, thank you for your heart and your kindness in this moment it is something that I will treasure and cherish," she says. "This is our home, he is forever with me, love never dies."