Max, Emma & Ikuyo

Since we won’t be able to host a Xmas party this year, or even do the eggnog burnoff, I thought it’d be awesome to direct the generosity and compassion of the community towards this family in need. Tannis and Mike Lemke have been trying to help as much as they can, but they are only 2 people. The following is fromTannis:

Max, 15 and Emma, 17, live with their mother, Ikuyo in high security social housing provided by the government for women and their children who have endured domestic abuse.

Shortly after her husband was incarcerated, Ikuyo was diagnosed with a fairly rapidly progressive form of multiple sclerosis. She is now almost unable to walk, even with a walker, and requires care to accomplish her activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing etc. She is not receiving the level of care support she needs, and it regularly falls to her daughter, Emma to provide the additionally needed care for her mom, as well as being the one to run and manage the household.

They do not own a car and none of them are able to drive. This makes transportation challenging and adds logistical complications to running the necessary errands, like grocery shopping or getting to doctors appointments. Emma takes transit to the Superstore at Metrotown to buy groceries and is limited to the amount she can purchase at once, as she needs to be able to carry it home on transit. This means she has to shop more frequently.

Ikuyo should probably be in a care facility, given the level of care she requires. But her children are not able to care for themselves alone, although they essentially do that now, even though they are still minors. Ikuyo is unable to cook because of her MS, and neither Emma or Max were taught to cook in her place. They really lack a lot of essential life skills, probably because they were either trying to survive in a violent home, or later were dealing with their mom being seriously ill with a progressively debilitating disease. They really have no one to advocate for them, and they don’t know how to do so for themselves.

Emma is also understandably struggling with mental health issues. Eventually, she was unable to attend high school and she is attempting to complete her high school graduation requirements online. It’s not going very well right now, and she could really use a supportive mentor.

Max has essentially looked after himself since his dad was incarcerated when Max was in grade 6. He has faithfully gotten himself up and off to school everyday on his own effort. He does well in school, attends regularly and wants to become a surgeon, like the cardio-thoracic surgeon portrayed on Grey’s Anatomy. He’s also gotten himself a job at the McDonald’s near his home, and he uses his earnings to supplement his diet with extra food, because he’s growing, always hungry and there’s not enough good food available at home. So Max is either working, sleeping or exercising in his room, when he’s not at school or doing homework. He’s a really self-motivated, polite and lovely kid. Given the life he’s had so far, it is to his credit that he is not running with a gang and getting into trouble while sporting a bad attitude. Max is a survivor.

So, because none of them cook, this little family has to eat processed, pre-prepared food, which is less healthy and a lot more expensive than cooking from scratch. Consequently, their food budget doesn’t stretch as far as they need it to, and they are often hungry.

This family has been failed by the government support programs designed to help children and families with issues like food security, and once they aged into high school, Max and Emma fell off the radar for support from the school system as well. The reason their very real and pressing needs are being brought to your attention is because the guidance counsellor from Max and Emma’s former middle school, Tina, checked on the family and found them to be in great need. Tina no longer has any responsibility to them through her job as a school counsellor, but she is also unwilling to watch them suffer and is determined to personally help them. She introduced the family to her good friend and RPCF member, Tannis Lemke, during the early days of Covid, and together they provided cooked meals, groceries, and an apartment sized chest freezer. With a freezer readily available, meals could be pre-made for them and frozen once they were delivered to the family, so that healthy meals would be readily available without a lot of cooking needing to be done by the kids.

Tannis approached Tom about the possibility of asking the gym membership to sponsor Max, Emma and Ikuyo this Christmas. We asked them each what kind of things they needed and wanted. Below is the list of what they asked for, along with some ideas Tannis and Tina brainstormed.

Paint brushes
Water colours
Canvases to paint on
Pillow cases (she only has sheets right now!!!)
Starbucks card, as it is within walking distance to their home
A gift certificate for a facial

Socks – her shoe size is 7
Leggings and/or yoga pants – size medium, and ones that are easy to put on and take off, because of the mobility and balance issues caused by her MS

Starbucks card
Computer games – he spends a lot of his spare time on his computer, so things like computer games
Work out equipment he can use in his bedroom
A couple of private training sessions to help him put together a personalized workout program he can do at home on his own

Food supply ideas:
Gift cards to Superstore
A rechargeable Uber account, to be used for transportation to get the groceries home after a shop

Specific food ideas they mentioned:
Brussel sprouts
Fried noodles
Cooked chicken
Mashed potatoes
Cereal: Crave, Fruit Loops
Pies: apple and pumpkin
Healthy snacks that teenagers like to eat

They do not eat turkey
Healthy homemade meals that are packaged up for freezing and that can be thawed and eaten later would be really useful. Some ideas include spaghetti sauce, lasagna, meatballs, Shepherd’s pie, quiches, chili, etc. Clearly writing the instructions for reheating on the meal package itself, using a sharpie, would be very helpful too.

As a gym community, we are a very fortunate bunch. My hope is that we can rally around this little family that has had such a difficult run to date, and really show them some much needed love, care and support. As a group, I think we could make a tremendous impact on the trajectory of Max and Emma’s futures.

Thanks everyone for considering your involvement in this project!


Click this link to add your name to the list. We will contact you very soon with instructions on how we shall share the list, collect and deliver. Thank you very, very much!

RP Community Family Sponsor Program Registration

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