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Demand putting strain on charity for families of homicide
KITCHENER – When Sharlene Bosma started Tim's Tribute, she was expecting to help a few families a year deal with the unexpected cost of a murdered loved one.
Now, with about 40 applications, funds are running low for the charity.
Six and a half years ago, Tim Bosma went missing. He was killed by two men over a pickup truck he was selling online.
His body was burned at a hangar at Waterloo Region's airport. His remains were found on a farm in North Dumfries.
For Sharlene, it was a difficult time both emotionally and financially.
"If it wasn't for the generosity of strangers, I would have lost my house," she remembers. "I couldn't pay bills, I had no money."
"I thought, 'I'm in a very lucky situation because I have so much support out there. What happens to people who don't?'"
That's why she started Tim's Tribute.
Since 2016, she's helped families of murder victims, providing funds in the days after a victim's death and during court proceedings.
Erin Howellt was killed back in 2013. Three years later, a Kitchener jury couldn't reach a verdict for her accused killer.
A new trial, which took place in St. Catharines, convicted him of first degree murder earlier this year.
"Money for hotels and stuff like that was incredibly helpful in allowing us to focus on the trial itself," says Dane Howlett.
Howlett's mother says that she has had so much help without even meeting them. When she does, she says she thinks "they'll be like family."
But now, those who run Tim's Tribute say the funds are running low.
"We were a little bit taken aback by how many cases had come forward," says Garett Eggink, who sits on the board of directors.
He calls the roughly 40 cases they've helped with "a little overwhelming."
Now, they're holding their first-ever fundraising gala to continue the bittersweet mission of helping families impacted by homicide.
"I'm grateful we are in a position that we can do this and yet there is a part of me that, I wish I didn't have to," Sharlene Bosma says.
Tim's Tribute also runs the Healing Tree, which provides counselling specifically impacted by homicide.
The fundraising gala is scheduled for Nov. 2 at Monthill Golf and Country Club in Caledonia.