Owner recovers diamond ring, with help from Nanaimo homeless

Nanaimo’s homeless community mobilized to get a diamond ring back to its owner this week.

Trinda Gajek accidentally gave the 14-carat gold ring with square-cut diamonds to a homeless youth in Nanaimo last Wednesday. Gajek was waiting to go to dinner with her partner when a young man wandered into the hospital parkade, looking a little lost, she said.

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Gajek, a Salt Spring Island nurse, asked how she could help and whether he needed money. The youth replied that money would help, and Gajek dumped all the change she had in her wallet into his hand and drove away.

Later, she remembered she’d put the ring in her zippered compartment in her wallet so she wouldn’t lose it. She was devastated to find it was gone.

When Raymond Ahlstrom, a homeless Nanaimo man, learned about the situation from CHEK News reporter Skye Ryan on Sunday, he set out to help.

Ahlstrom, who knows the street community, asked a friend to drive him to where he thought the young man in question would be. He found him in a tent and asked him if he had the ring.

“He said: ‘Yeah. Here’s the ring,’ ” Gajek said. “He’d been keeping it safe in his water bottle.”

On Monday, Gajek received a text from Ryan telling her the ring had been found. “I thought that’s crazy. She hasn’t found my ring. Then she sent a photo of Raymond holding my ring. I said: ‘That’s absolutely my ring.’ ”

Gajek met Ahlstrom in the parkade on Tuesday and he gave her the ring.

The Gajek family always called the ring the “Good Mother Ring.”

Gajek’s children, Rylan and Teighan, bought it for her several years ago after she tried it on in a Vancouver jewelry store. The kids were in high school at the time.

“They said: ‘You should buy it.’ But I said I had no money. So they ran out of the store to an ATM and pooled their money,” Gajek recalled. “They said ‘We’re going to buy this ring for you. You’ve been a good mom.’ They put their money down on the table and I covered the rest. What else could I do?”

Although the ring lost a couple of diamonds on its journey through Nanaimo, Gajek said she’s “so, so grateful” to have it back.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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