Today’s benefit concert for the residents of Paddington Station holds personal significance for Emily Taylor Adams.
The young Langley singer and songwriter is a resident of Paddington Station, and she spent the past two days – working alongside fellow Langley songwriter Nate Cavalli – scribing what she calls an inspirational song for her neighbours and friends who lost their homes.
The song, called Bring Us Home, is “for the other residents, to give them hope and assurance that things are going to be okay, that we’re all here for them,” said Adams, who will performing this new song at today’s fundraiser – running noon to 8 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.
“I wanted to write a song full of positivity and hope,” she said. “I wanted it to tell them all that we can get through anything – together.”
Adams was contacted the day after the fire by fellow Langley country singer Karen Lee Batten, who had taken it upon herself to organize this benefit concert for the residents.
Batten was connecting fellow artists, asking them to perform. But knowing that Adams was actually a resident of Paddington Station, as well, she was a little more reluctant to ask for fear of burdening her with such a request at a difficult time.
But in the same breath, Batten knew that Adams would want to help.
Adams has called Paddington home for the past year and a half, and realizes how close she and her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter came to being homeless this holiday season, she was quick to jump on board.
“This is my home, too. I had to do it. I feel, if I can help somehow, I must. Their my Paddington family,” said the 25-year-old artist, who noted that all of her neighbours have – over time – been “subjected” her singing out on her balcony.
Adams had thought of hosting a similar event, herself. But she credited Batten with being quick to respond and much better connected and capable of pulling off an event of this magnitude.
The outpouring of support and kindness that has been shown to Paddington residents since the fire has been “overwhelming,” Adams said. This concert is just one example.
“Everyone is giving. It’s so amazing… there’s so much love out there. And most important, everyone is going to be okay,” she added, excited to be presenting this song to her neighbours.
The bridge in the song sums it all up for Adams. “Home is not just a place you live. Home is where you are and where love is.”
Paddington is where she lives, and it is where she and her daughter happily call home.
She’s on stage today at 6 p.m., and will be performing two originals (one of them being Bring Us Home) and three cover tunes. Loaded with extra liquid energy (three shots – instead of two – in her espresso), she vows to be there all day, and even after – for teardown, as needed.
“We’re expecting huge things,” Adams said as she pulled into the LEC parking lot Tuesday morning to help with set up for the concert.
Recalling the day of the fire
When the single mother turned the corner and saw flames leaping from the top of her downtown Langley City condo complex, she was “absolutely terrified.”
“I had just gone to get coffee, and when I came back, there were 20-foot flames shooting out of the top of the building… it was so scary,” she recounted.
Her daughter Peyton was in the car with her, but her niece was still in their apartment, and her immediate thoughts and fears were that her niece might be in danger.
It turned out the fire was in the building adjacent to hers, and that while they were evacuated for a few days, Adams’ home was not damaged in the huge blaze that ravaged through one of the Paddington Station buildings on Dec. 11.
Nevertheless, in the thick of it all, Adams couldn’t be sure – recalling the sense of fear that rocked her as she attempted to stay calm and take action.
Seeing that several other people were calling 9-1-1, she abandoned her car in front of the building and bolted up to her third floor apartment. Warning her niece of the potential danger, she scooped up some heavy clothing and blankets, dressed the girls warmly, and left again – banging on all her neighbours doors as she left to alert them to the fire and urge them to meet her out to the street.
“I was just panicked and wanted to get my family out of the building,” she recounted. “Everything else didn’t matter. Everything else is just stuff. We just had to be okay, and we were.”
The rest of the day for Adams – after sending her daughter and niece off to their grandparent’s home in Brookswood – was spent down on the street, holding crying neighbours who’d lost everything; bringing them donated food, beverages, and blankets; directing them on to buses brought in to offer shelter and warmth; and shuttling rescued animals to a nearby emergency animal clinic to be checked over.
“It was super surreal. I still can’t believe that happened,” said Adams, who has since settled back in her apartment.
“I’ve been crying for more than a week now. It’s so emotional.”
While residents of Paddington Station were already a pretty close-knit community – or as Adams calls it “like a big family” – prior to the fire, Adams said this tragedy has drawn them even closer together.
“I hope the residents come out today, and realize they’re not alone in this, and that they can ask for help – because it’s here.”
Other fundraisers, too
On Monday night, the Friends Langley Vineyard Church teamed up with Beyond Compare Ministries and Kimz Angels to host a full Christmas dinner for the displaced residents, including entertainment and gifts.
Vicki’s Paw Spa in Langley City also offered free baths and tidies for the pets of Paddington residents Monday, as well.
Numerous other fundraisers, from online efforts to the major concert Tuesday night at the Langley Events Centre, have been taking place or are planned for the coming days.
NY Grill and Bistro, close to the condos, is having a fundraiser on Dec. 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. Organizers are offering dinner for $20 at the door with a burger, fries and a beer, with proceeds going to help displaced tenants through the strata organization.
Adams will be singing at that event, as well.