VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
House a legacy of missing women
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows TIMES
Friday, January 31, 2003
The house sits empty most of the time. It's green and weathered and surprisingly big inside. There are 10 bedrooms that you find by walking down a series of hallways that are dark because the home's wiring needs to be fixed.
Val Hughes Val Hughes sits in the living room of Legacy House. She is holding a photo of her sister Kerry Koski as her husband Terry looks on.
The bedrooms are stripped down to nothing. In fact, other than a few scattered pieces of furniture, the house is completely empty and devoid of anything personal. Except one corner of the living room. That's where Val Hughes points you to.
In this corner there are a few paintings, a collage and one photo depicting a woman in a bright red blouse. She's surrounded by children blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. The little girls are nearly grown up now, but the woman in the red blouse hasn't aged at all. That's because, as far as Hughes knows, her sister Kerry Koski is no longer alive.
"In my mind, she'll always look that way," Hughes says, pointing to the photo.
After she agrees to have her photo taken with the picture, Hughes pins it back into the corner so she'll have something to look at when she comes to the weathered green house.
To borrow a cliche, this old house has become her second home. Situated on a quiet piece of land in Maple Ridge, the home will one day become the Missing Women's Legacy House. It will be a place for women addicted to drugs and working as prostitutes to "heal" and to learn how to turn their lives around.
Koski is one of more than 60 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside who have gone missing. Koski hasn't been seen since January, 1998.
Next door to Maple Ridge there is a trial going on regarding the missing women, but Hughes is staying away from all that. She's focused on getting enough donations to finish renovating the home - which needs all new wiring, a sprinkler system and a new roof, just to name a few things - as well as securing matching government funds to get the programs running.
"It's good for me to have this project, as big as it is," she says. "It gives me something to occupy my mind."
Hughes heads up the Missing Women's Legacy Society, which is made up of family and friends of the missing women.
Together they have organized a series of events for the rest of this year to raise awareness and funds for the ambitious project.
This Saturday, Feb. 1, is the Forget Me Not Walk at noon in the rear parking lot at the Home Depot store off Ottawa Street in Port Coquitlam. People of all ages are invited to come and hear inspirational speakers before embarking on the walk.
Every Thursday night at 6 p.m. a group of quilters come to the site of Legacy House to make items to raise money. See the numbers below to find the location.
Works of art are being collected for the rest of this year before the society hosts an international art show in November.
A day-long festival is being organized for this coming August.
Hughes will be driving the support vehicle starting in June during a cross-country bike trek to raise money and awareness.
The house that is being renovated used to be a group home for people with mental and physical disabilities. Its genesis gives Hughes a source of inspiration.
"It was built by volunteers and now it is being renovated by volunteers," Hughes said. "To us, this house is very special."
Between the renovations and the logistics of all the different fundraising events, Hughes, a mother herself, doesn't have a lot of time to think about much else. But she finds a way.
"I actually come to this house and sit here by myself. I think about how this house is the legacy for these women. It's going to save lives."
If you are interested in supporting Legacy House by taking part in the above projects, call Hughes at 318-9611 or Maggy at 514-1657. To mail a donation, write to Missing Women's Legacy Society, 21617 Hinch Ct., Maple Ridge, V2X 7H5. For other information on society activities, check outwww.missingwomenslegacy.ca
Updated: August 21, 2016