For Dan Reaveley, 13-hour days are nothing new.
Besides working at the Maple Ridge Chrysler dealership earning a living to support his four kids, he's got his hands full renovating a new office in downtown Port Coquitlam that will be home to the charity in honour of his late wife, Charlene.
"I wanted a way to make a legacy for her, keep her name alive so people know what she was about," he told the Tri-Cities NOW.
So, Reaveley has been busy painting and laying flooring in order to get the 600-square-foot office up and running by September.
The Charlene Reaveley Children's Charity Society's mission is to offer immediate assistance to families with children experiencing the loss of a loved one through emotional and financial support.
The charity, which will have an office located on Shaughnessy Street across from Leigh Square, connects and funds certified grief counselling to families with children, and offers financial support to help cover the costs of everyday life.
The society got charity status at the end of 2011, and has been quietly working with families ever since.
Charlene, along with another woman, Lorraine Cruz, was killed in an alleged drunk-driving hit-and-run on Feb 19, 2011.
Cruz had been driving with her 28-year-old boyfriend in a Nissan Pathfinder just before 12:30 a.m. when the vehicle crashed at Lougheed Highway and Pitt River Road.
The two got out of the car, and the Reaveleys stopped to help. As the four stood outside the Nissan at the PoCo intersection, a 1995 white Jeep Cherokee allegedly ran down both women.
Cory Sater is facing 10 charges related to the crash, and his trial is expected to begin in October in B.C. Supreme Court.
Reaveley said he wanted to start a charity right after Charlene's passing, and decided to focus the society on dealing with grief because he found little in the way of support or resources from any agency during his own ordeal.
Neither victim services nor ICBC provided financial support for grief counselling to Reaveley or his family after the accident.
Though he did receive both emotional and financial support from family, he knows other families might not be so fortunate.
"There's no one out there that offers it," he said.
Reaveley noted as soon as the society started, he began receiving calls from families in need.
The new space in PoCo will have two offices for counselling work.
All of the counsellors will provide their services for free, while no one who works for the organization gets paid.
Reaveley said he is hoping to keep it that way.
In the days, weeks and months that followed Charlene's death, Reaveley barely slept, or ate.
He also didn't think, or care much about, the mundane day-to-day stuff - like paying bills.
"When you're in that bubble everything hits you and you're in shock," he explained. "You don't care about filling out paperwork. Your focus is on you and your kids."
Reaveley said he had his power shut off at one point because he forgot to pay - not for lack of money, but because he couldn't even think about it.
In fact, he said he doesn't remember the first year after the crash.
He's a big believer that counselling can make a big difference in the recovery process, especially for kids.
It's been more than two years since that fateful lifechanging night.
The long-time Coquitlam resident has just recently started working again at the dealership, after a couple of failed attempts. He said his kids are also doing better, but there are still tough days and meltdowns.
"I don't think it ever gets better, the way it was," Reaveley said.
There is also the upcoming trial for the man alleged to have killed Charlene.
Reaveley will be there to testify, but says he doesn't have much hope that justice will be served.
He's trying not to get wrapped up in all the negativity around the trial.
"I think it will be difficult," he said. "That's the whole purpose of the charity, deflect the negative and make it into a positive."
Before her death, Charlene would buy items from the Salvation Army and give them away to families in need, or help some of the lower-income kids who went to her own children's school.
Reaveley said he only found out about some of his wife's generosity after the crash.
"The way she was is exactly what this charity represents," he said.
Tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 8), the Charlene Reaveley Children's Charity Society will host its first-annual car wash and bottle drive in Maple Ridge, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Haney Presbyterian Church.
All proceeds from the event will go toward the charity and support children who have lost loved ones.
To learn more about the charity, go to www.crccs.ca.
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