Bre Smith and Nina Sinclair
(Bre Smith, left, and Nina Sinclair / photo courtesy Nina Sinclair)

A small act of kindness turned into a Christmas miracle for a Langford woman after a chance encounter Tuesday night.

Bre Smith was heading home on her electric mobility scooter when it got stuck in the icy conditions left behind by Monday’s storm.

In the process of trying to pulling it free, the steering column snapped, rendering it inoperable.

Smith relies on the scooter due to issues with chronic back pain, fibromyalgia and arthritis. She lives on disability income and is a single mother to a 14-year-old son.

“Money’s pretty tight,” said Smith in an interview with Victoria Buzz. “It probably would’ve taken me a few months to try to get one. Even used, they’re more than I can afford.”

But as it turned out, Smith didn’t have to wait months. As she struggled with the broken scooter, a driver pulled up and asked Smith if she needed help.

The good samaritan was Nina Sinclair, a wedding photographer who also lives in Langford. She says that with the scooter in unusable condition, it simply made sense to offer Smith a ride home.

“As I was driving her home, she told me that her battery had literally just died, and she didn’t have a cell phone,” Sinclair said in an interview with Victoria Buzz. “She would have been stuck there.”

On the car ride to Smith’s residence, the two women got to talking. When Sinclair learned of Smith’s situation and mobility issues, she offered to take her help one step further.

“I said ‘is there any way I can have your phone number?'” Sinclair said.

“‘I can’t make any promises, but I’m going to try and put it out there in the world and see what I can do to help you get a new scooter, because you can’t be without a form of transportation.'”

On Wednesday, Sinclair started a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy Smith a new scooter.

The photographer says that in a matter of hours, nearly 30 different donors, including Sinclair and her husband, had raised over $1,600.

With the donated funds, Sinclair was able to track down a deal for a $1,300 scooter on Used Victoria, and used the remaining money to purchase groceries and visa gift cards to help Smith with expenses.

“It was incredible, I couldn’t believe it,” said Smith. “She was just so nice. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. I didn’t know people could be so wonderful.”

She says she had been feeling stressed and anxious about replacing the broken scooter and making ends meet, and Sinclair’s kind actions were an incredible relief.

Both she and Sinclair agree that acts of kindness like this are more important than ever, not just because of the holiday season but because of the world’s struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need each other,” Sinclair said. “Community is everything. If you see somebody struggling, try to put yourself in their shoes and think of what that might be like, or how that happened, instead of just walking past. It could happen to any of us.”

She says her photography business has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and her meeting with Smith reminded her of the importance of simple acts of kindness.

Smith agrees.

“[Sinclair] did more for me than just get me a scooter,” she said.

“It definitely shows that we can do more for each other as strangers, even with all this stuff going on. Especially with the year everyone’s had, we need it now more than ever…She’s literally changed my life.”

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