Rosslanders are opening their hearts — and their wallets — to help a “local legend” around town.
A Gofundme campaign has been launched to help Garry Camozzi have a home to call his own.
“He’s a character larger than life,” says Ryan Kelly, who launched the campaign. “He’s a beautiful and gentle soul.”
Kelly has known Camozzi for many years, a man described as a local institution around Rossland.
Though born and raised in Rossland, age and living rough have been tough on Camozzi. He used to live in a makeshift camp outside of town, eking out a living and skiing on Red Mountain.
“He’s just turned 69. He’s brilliant but he has some issues,” says Kelly, adding the man has cataracts and is legally blind. “He’s a local legend for skiing, and has been a bushman living in a cave/shelter on Red Mountain for years. He’s always had his own path, kind of thing.
“He was set up with a place in Trail a few years ago but it didn’t work out. I know there are avenues for him, but he really doesn’t conform to some of the social welfare things that they require.”
A few weeks ago, Kelly came across Camozzi in a much-reduced state.
“I popped into the bank in mid-September on a rainy night, and there was Garry sleeping in the entranceway to the bank, just to get out of the weather,”says Kelly. “His plan was to get back to his camp in the woods, but he couldn’t get there.”
Kelly put Camozzi up in a little travel trailer he had in his yard, and that’s helped the man have shelter for a few weeks. But it’s not a safe accommodation for the coming cold weather.
He’s approached a local motel to provide Camozzi with a simple room for the winter, and if that comes through, he’ll be good for the worst of the season.
And then Kelly launched a gofundme campaign to build a tiny home for him in the spring, a more permanent solution for the senior.
In just three weeks, the fund has collected $8,300 of its $10,000 goal.
The generosity of Rosslanders doesn’t surprise Kelly, who found the community had his back in his own time of need.
“My wife was a nurse and she passed just about a week after my daughter was born, 4½ years ago” he says. “The town really reached out. They started a Gofundme [page] and raised a lot of money for our family.”
Kelly hopes to have a trust fund set up to manage the money they’re raising, which will go towards construction materials for the tiny home.
“He doesn’t want extreme comfort,” says Kelly. “It just has to be something small and simple, a bed, bathtub and a toilet, something he can have that’s his.”
And he plans to approach a local trailer court about providing a plot for the tiny home. If that won’t work, he’ll look for other options.
Kelly says Camozzi has been touched by the generosity of his community.
“He’s pretty receptive about the idea,” says Kelly. “He finds it all very humbling. He wants to pay everyone back.”
You can visit the Gofundme campaign page, or, once it’s set up, deposit money directly into the trust fund at the Nelson and District Credit Union in Rossland.