Good neighbors keep the rain away

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:17

Church, community effort repairs home Milford - “Where there is hope and prayer, miracles will happen,” said Patrick McCarthy. McCarthy believes he’s seen proof of this in his recent involvement in an 18-month effort to help a family of fellow parishioners at St. Patrick’s Church. In March of last year, Sagamore Estates residents Bob and Margaret Kinlen had fallen on very bad times. Mr. Kinlen’s mother was hospitalized and critically ill, their 8 year-old daughter had been in and out of the hospital. Bills were mounting and he was out of work after an injury and Margaret’s job was lost to corporate downsizing. On top of all that, the roof on the house the couple recently bought for themselves and their five children had failed and leaked badly. Out of alternatives, they went to their church. Church pastor, Fr. Gerald Mullally listened, then started talking to other people. Jim Luhrs, of Luhr’s Homecenter quickly offered materials. Then Mullally called on McCarthy, who heads the parish council of the Knights of Columbus. McCarthy, who owns the Heavenly Touch Cleaning Service in Milford, also has some experience in estimating project materials and costs. After his first inspection, McCarthy knew the cost would be more than just shingles and tar paper and he put the problem to Luhrs. “Without batting an eye, he simply said, ‘Let’s get it done. It takes what it takes to do it right.’ From that moment on, materials were no problem,” McCarthy recalled. But getting the people to put the materials to use was a problem. Spring had turned to summer and August found many potential volunteers away on vacation. McCarthy turned to the Pike County Builders Association, where Executive Bette Eagan started polling members by email, including pictures of the Kinlen home. Out of the polling came volunteer, Russell Conen owner of Touch of Grey Carpentry in Shohola. McCarthy told Conen that a lot of preparations were still incomplete, but, “he told me ‘it doesn’t matter. Just give me a call and I’ll be there.’” “And he is a man of his word,” McCarthy added. The old year ended without the “Christmas roof” that McCarthy had hoped to provide. “We found out that when you’re dealing with volunteers, nothing is certain,” he said. The winter brought more health issues for the Kinlen children: ear infections and bronchitis, which McCarthy blamed on the badly leaking roof. In June, McCarthy decided a starting date had to be scheduled, and Aug. 4 was chosen. Besides himself, he was certain of help only from Patrick Aschoff and fellow knight, John Piazza. But Aug. 4 arrived and so did the volunteers. Conen arrived with two men, whom he paid for the day. Others followed over the three-day project, carpenters, roofers, plumbers, seemingly arriving as needed out the clear blue. “There were different people every day. We never had too many or too few. It always seemed that the right people were on hand on the day we needed them,” McCarthy said. A dumpster was needed. A dumpster arrived. Food for the workers was needed and it arrived. Clear weather was a must and the sun shone. “It was so amazing that so many people got together this way and it went so smoothly. Even when you pay people that doesn’t necessarily happen,” McCarthy said. They peeled what were up to six layers of old shingles off. The rotted 3,400 square-foot roof, rafters, eves and a faulty wall were replaced. McCarthy estimated the value of the job at $30,000 or more. “It was faith,” Margaret Kinlen said. “...we were so blessed,” she said of the volunteers and contributions that made it all happen. “If it wasn’t for Fr. Mullally telling Patrick McCarthy and the Knights, we would still be trying to figure out how to fix our roof.”