Local veteran gets new roof
RSVP volunteers come to homeowner's aid
REED CITY — The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Osceola County and The Home Depot Foundation helped a local disabled veteran, John Clark, get a new roof on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Cornerstone Construction and Rich Olds Construction, both of Evart, volunteered their crews to install the new roof on Clark's home on Todd Street.
"We have two companies and two crews, a total of around 10 volunteers working on the roof," Cornerstone crew foreman Brian Carrie said. "The biggest thing was getting the old shingles off. Normally this roof would take about three days, we'll finish it in one day."
The crews began work at 7 a.m., tearing off four layers of old shingles, repairing and replacing roof boards, and putting on new shingles. The new roof was completed at 3 p.m.
RSVP volunteers, along with Home Depot representatives, were on hand to help with clean up, and provide coffee and snacks for the workers throughout the day.
RSVP volunteer Deborah Allen was instrumental in getting Clark the help he needed to get his home some necessary repairs.
"After visiting with John a couple of times, I saw his home was in dire need of repairs both inside and out, so I started applying for grants to see if I could get him a disabled veteran's grant," Allen said.
Allen said she needed estimates from at least three builders for doing the roof before she could apply for the grants.
She was having trouble getting the estimates, so she decided to reach out to Lowe's, Menards and Home Depot to see what programs they had available.
That's when she learned of The Home Depot Foundation, a program to assist veterans with improving their homes and their lives, she said.
The Home Depot Foundation required the veteran in need be sponsored by a local veterans organization, so Allen reached out to the Reed City VFW and AmVets organizations.
"Ms. Allen came to us looking for a sponsor in order to put together a grant for Clark, and we were happy to help," VFW Commander Larry Adams said.
AmVets Commander Marv Myers added, "Anybody that needs help, we are happy to help them, and if we can't do it, we can put them in touch with someone who can."
Once she had the sponsorship, Allen was able to apply for the grant from The Home Depot Foundation, which supplied all the materials for the roof replacement. The entire project has taken almost two years, Allen said.
"I'm overwhelmed," Clark said. "I could have never done this on my own and I have (Deborah) to thank for everything. She's like a sister."
"I'm very grateful and want to tell everybody, 'Thank you,'" he added.
RSVP Director Linda Connell said as recently as 1 1/2 years ago, Clark was three years behind on his property taxes with a failing roof over his head. Allen helped him realize he was entitled to benefits from the federal government and the Navy that he hadn't been receiving. Within one year of Allen intervening, Clark was able to pay his taxes in full and is now getting his roof fixed.
Cornerstone will also be re-doing Clark's bathroom, which was destroyed because of the leaky roof, next week, Carrey said.
Allen, along with other RSVP volunteers, were recognized for their efforts on behalf of seniors and veterans at the annual volunteer recognition luncheon this past summer.
"I was a caregiver for my aunt and mother, and in doing so, I saw how seniors need extra help," Allen said. "I think a lot of them are left alone and they don't know how to reach out for help when they need it."
That's where RSVP of Mecosta, Osceola and Lake counties comes in. They are a nonprofit organization that offers people 55 and older the opportunity to help seniors. Usually that involves trips to and from the pharmacy and doctor's appointments and meal deliveries, but many volunteers go above and beyond, Connell said.
"They are willing to do whatever is needed," she said. "It gives them purpose and it benefits the community."
"I can't express enough about how the elderly and veterans are not aware of what is available to help them," Allen said. "If they need to go to the doctor, get groceries or run errands all they need to do is call."
Anyone in need of assistance is encouraged to call their local Commission on Aging or RSVP.