Evart — Evart resident and Army National Guard veteran, Ronald Oles has a new roof on his home, thanks to the help of the Wexford-Osceola Habitat for Humanity and the Lowe's Heroes Program.

Oles said he noticed the damage to the roof about two years ago and had someone inspect it. It was found to have a leak around where the satellite dish had been installed.

“I noticed it was dipping, that’s how I knew something was wrong,” he said. “When I had it inspected, they said I would need a whole new roof.”

He contacted the VA to see if they could help and they connected him with Habitat for Humanity, who took it from there, he said.

“We got a call from Habitat of Michigan last November about a veteran in Osceola County that was needing some roof repair,” said Amy Gibbs, executive director of WOHFH. “They have a program where Owens Corning will pay for the materials and send a preferred contractor for anyone that is a veterans build affiliate.”

The organization signed up Oles as a veteran build affiliate and were getting things lined up, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shutting down construction in the spring of this year, putting a kink in the works, she said.

“We could not find a contractor to come do the work,” Gibbs said. “I kept at it, calling and asking people. Eventually, I contacted Lowes in Big Rapids and they said they would pay for the materials and send a Lowes Heroes Team to help out.”

The Lowe's Heroes Program supports home building projects through Habitat for Humanity and other charitable organizations to help ensure everyone has safe and secure housing.

Gibbs said her Habitat builder, Evan Stieg, agreed to do the roof, and with the charitable contributions of other organizations, including TCF Bank and Cargill, they were able to get the project going.

Oles said he is grateful to all of those who have helped to get the project underway.

“It is hard to express words for it, it is so awesome,” Oles said. “It as been a two-year project, and I am glad it is finally getting done.”

"If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 crisis, it is that our ability to thrive during a shelter-in-place mandate is directly tied to the safety and stability of our housing. Problems such as leaky roofs, mold, insufficient insulation, and high rent payments threaten the health, safety, and financial security of families and cause further concern beyond the risk of contracting COVID-19," Gibbs said in a news release.

"WOHFH is excited to serve families in its community. Wexford-Osceola Habitat for Humanity extends our deepest gratitude to Lowe’s Big Rapids, TCF National Bank and Cargill Inc., as well as the many volunteers to help us get the work completed."

Prior to beginning work on the roof, the Evart Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7979 vice commander Dan Howe, along with a representative of the Reed City VFW, presented Oles with a flag that had flown atop the Michigan State Capital building.