Community rallies round homeless mum

01:42, Jul 15 2014
FRIEND IN NEED: Andrew Neru has been helping Nicole Wilson get her life back together after most of her Richmond home was destroyed by fire.

Single mother Nicole Wilson watched everything she had go up in smoke when her Richmond rental property burned down last week, but generosity from the Nelson community has ensured she and her children now have a comfortable new house and belongings to fill it.

Wilson, 23, has a 5-year-old son and twins who are about to turn 2. The house they shared caught on fire at about 9am last Monday when a wooden screen near the fireplace ignited, and the resulting inferno left the Wilsons homeless with only the clothes on their backs.

The Nelson community swung into action within hours of the fire breaking out as Facebook group New Pay it Forward Nelson organised a donation drive for household items. Group moderator Casey Abbott attended Waimea College at the same time as Wilson.

Another former peer, Andrew Neru, has set up a page on charity website Givealittle where people can use their credit cards to donate money to Wilson's cause. As of this morning, it was just shy of its $5000 target.

He has also held a sausage sizzle and posted a series of auctions on Trade Me selling goods donated by Nelson businesses under the username "forthewilsons". The auctions, which include a gold engagement ring by Glen James Jewellers, close tomorrow.

When Wilson located a new rental property in Tahunanui through her property manager at Haven Realty, Neru co-ordinated a donation drive via a dedicated text line. A truck drove around Nelson last weekend to retrieve donated furniture items and bulky goods.


"We just got everyone organised and said, ‘Right, we're doing it, be ready," Neru said. The family now have everything they need, including a tiny wooden table with a matching chair for each of the children.

Wilson said her favourite new item was the stereo, which "mysteriously appeared" one morning when Neru was left to mind the house. "I came home today and there was a stereo in the house, he'd put new lightbulbs in the lights, set up a lamp in my room and the washing was done."

She said the twins were unaffected by the fire as they were not in the house when it happened, but her son had recently "freaked out" when the woodburner at his grandmother's place was put on. Her new house does not feature a fireplace.

Wilson said she wanted to send a big thank-you to all of those who had put forward money or goods, especially the members of Pay it Forward, Neru, and her friends and family.

The Nelson Mail