The NG Times Newspaper

A fundraiser for a local animal rescue quickly turned into much more at the Mainstreet Restaurant on February 8. The dinner was one of several Village Chef fundraisers hosted by the Mainstreet in Merrickville, aimed at raising money for local charities. The dinner on February 8 was prepared by Deputy Mayor Ann Barr, with proceeds going towards A Chance Animal Rescue.
The evening had just begun when Mike Neelan, the host of the evening and the owner of the Mainstreet, told the crowd about a local family who had just lost everything to a devastating house fire.
“You could just feel a heavy weight go through the restaurant,” says Mark Scullino, one of the evening’s diners. “You could hear a pin drop and all the air went out of the room.”
Only a few days prior to the dinner, Chantal Roulston watched as her house and everything in it burnt to the ground in Eastons Corners. Luckily, her husband was at work and her three children were at school when the house caught fire due to an electrical malfunction. Chantal herself was out running errands when a neighbour called her, asking in a panic, whether there was anyone in her house. “It felt like it was a really long time before he told me what was happening,” Chantal remembers. She got home as quickly as she could, but, at that point, there was nothing that could be done. The fire trucks were there and she could see black smoke pouring out of the windows. “It was kind of surreal,” she says. “I’ve seen houses burn in the movies, but you never see it in real life.” Years of memories gone in a few hours.
Fast forward to the Mainstreet. Mark Scullino decided to offer a challenge to the diners. After conferring with Ann and Mike, his table quickly came together and raised $100 to support the Roulston family and then challenged the other tables to meet or beat their donation. In a matter of minutes the diners raised over $700 to help the Roulstons get back on their feet. “Our breath was taken away by all the money that rolled over to our table in ten to twelve minutes,” Mark says. “It was breathtaking to see a community come together.” A Chance Animal Rescue also donated their earnings from the 50/50 draw to the cause.
Chantal says she and her family are overwhelmed by the support they have received from the community. When the manager at the Mainstreet asked her to stop by, she figured it was to pick up something she left there from a job (she runs a cake decorating business called Edible Sins). “When she handed me the money, I was crying,” she says. “We were really, really surprised. It was very moving and heartwarming.”
For now, the Roulstons are staying with some close family friends until they can go through the process of having their house rebuilt. Chantal says the support she has received from the community at large has been incredible. C’est Tout Bakery in Smiths Falls even offered her space in their commercial kitchen, so she could continue with her business. “It was very unexpected,” she says. “People have stepped up above and beyond.”
A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help the Roulstons cover basic living expenses while they are out of their home. To donate you can visit their page at


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