It was a chance encounter for Pam Peterson (left) and newcomer to Penticton Jessica Wherley (right) but one that came at just the right time.                                Kristi Patton/Western News Staff

It was a chance encounter for Pam Peterson (left) and newcomer to Penticton Jessica Wherley (right) but one that came at just the right time. Kristi Patton/Western News Staff

Penticton rallies to help victim of theft

When a newcomer to Penticton had all her clothes stolen, the community stepped in to help

It wasn’t the welcome Jessica Wherley was expecting when she moved to Penticton.

Having recently arrived to the city, from the Yukon, to start her job at the hospital, Wherley had left some of her clothes in her car as she slowly settled into her new place.

“I had three bags of clothes in my car and random miscellaneous items. I went out one morning to go to work and the doors were open, stuff was strewn all over the place and everything in the back seat was stolen,” said Wherley, who is an registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit. “I felt really violated and scared. I just moved to this new place, don’t know the area, don’t really know anyone and now all my things are gone. I was upset. My jacket was gone, my shoes, scrubs for work — I didn’t even have a pair of jeans.”

On a chance encounter, while Wherley was shopping in Kelowna to replace some of the items a few days later, she met the welcome wagon that should have greeted her. Pam Peterson happened to be in the dressing room next to Wherley and overheard what had happened as she told the sales person.

“When I overheard Jessica in the change room it broke my heart. There were tears in her eyes when I said I would help. I told her I would show her the real Penticton,” said Peterson, who lives in West Bench.

Peterson turned to Facebook, posting the story about how Wherley had all her clothes stolen and asked, ‘can we not come together as a community, give her a warm welcome and show her what Penticton is really about?’ Comments came flooding in and she now has a list with 29 people wanting to help.

“The outpouring of support we’ve received from my friends and total strangers, are beyond what I expected,” said Peterson. “Bags of clothes were at my doorstep within minutes of posting, along with gift certificates and money.”

“Our community is tight. Our community is generous and our community is kind. Penticton has restored my faith in humanity and has opened their hearts to a young nurse from the Yukon.”

Wherley said the generosity has been overwhelming.

“Like Pam told me, incidents like this is where you get your grit in life. It’s sometimes hard to accept help, and that has been a big lesson for me, especially as a nurse who is always trying to help others. It really has been the first time in my life where I have been so overwhelmed with the kindness of people,” she said.

Wherley added the bad taste from the experience is gone and now she is left with even more understanding of why it’s important to give to others.

“Not even in the spirit of Christmas, this should be all year round. Anything. It can be simple like giving some a ride or doing something kind for someone. It will also be a pay it forward for me. I tried to live my life like that before, but now even moreso. I will always remember this and go that extra mile for people whenever I can for sure.”

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