WINDSOR, ONT. -- A newly renovated home, and the surprises inside, saw a Windsor family brought together by tragedy awestruck by the promise of a new life together.

On Sunday, the keys were handed over to Terrence and Chantell Hurst, and the six Allen children the newlywed couple has taken in as their own, for a home donated by the children’s great-grandfather and made new again with the support of the community.

The Erie Street-home was renovated for the family after the Hurst’s decided to adopt the six orphaned Allen children following the sudden loss of the children’s parents, Carmen and Adam Allen in early September.

"This is like my dream home," said Chantell Hurst, cycling between giddy smiles and teary eyes. "It’s beautiful and it’s truly stunning."

Caster Custom Homes

Caster Custom Homes partnered with 26 different businesses, foundations and donors to renovate a donated Erie Street home for the Hurst an Allen family. Sunday, December 20, 2020. (Ricardo Veneza/CTV Windsor)

Chantell knew the family and would come over to do their hair. When she heard about the family’s tragedy, she felt a calling to do more.

"The Lord just laid something on my heart," said Chantell. "When they were at their house, I was doing their hair and when I realized they weren’t being placed anywhere, the Lord put it on my heart and then I called my husband and he just said, 'If that’s what you want'."

The act saw the community respond.

Dan Caster, the president of Caster Custom Homes, worked to bring partners together to give the family a new home after he was moved by the Hurst’s generosity to keep the brothers and sisters together.

He has had his own brush with heartache.

"I almost lost a daughter five-and-a-half years ago in my arms," said Caster. "You realize how precious children are and you realize what life is all about. It’s not all about you anymore, it’s about your children."

The Caster Group along with 26 partner businesses, foundations and donors came together to renovate the home donated by the Allen’s great grandfather.

Caster hopes the new home will be the backdrop of great new memories.

"It’s all about family to me," said Caster. "I just hope they feel welcome. I hope they feel loved. Love from the community, love from the people who put all their energy forth to do this and love from our partners that helped us to renovate the home."

Not only did the business community step up but, so did the family’s church community.

New Life Fellowship Bishop Paul Riley says the church community rallied around the family in their time of need.

"For something like this to happen, this is nothing but the perfect example of what love of a community and people is," said Riley.


One more surprise

The surprises did not end with the tour of all the new features of the redone house.

Caster gathered the blended family at the dinner table for a final surprise – revealing a cheque for $100,000 from the Alan Quesnel Family Foundation.

"This is not at all what I was expecting," said Terrence. "I’m just speechless."

Some of the Allen children held their head in their hands in disbelief while Chantell wiped tears from her eyes.

"We’re blessed. We both have jobs. We don’t have $100,000 – I don’t think we’ve ever even seen $100,000," said Chantell. "But, to know that you can just send your children to college, to university, to not let them want."

Chantell says the couple are still working through the adoption process but, are humbled and elated to be spending Christmas together under the same roof.