‘The best Christmas gift’: a new roof

Judy looks out her kitchen window as it starts to rain. The rain reminds her of the leaking roof she has been struggling with for over four months now.

Strong winds damaged the roof of her house a few years ago. Judy had it repaired and asked the insurance agent to come out and look at it. When the roof started to leak, she called the agent and was told her roof was not covered.

“He told me it wasn’t insured because I never got it fixed,” Judy said. “I told him ‘yes I did, you even said you did a drive-by.’”

She went back and forth with her insurance company with no solution in sight. Although Judy was saving money, she wouldn’t be able to afford a new roof any time soon. She has multiple sclerosis and spends most of her time in a wheelchair. Her income is limited.

“I was trying to save money so I could have it fixed but there was no way I was saving enough,” Judy said.

Her home soon filled with the smell of mold when the leak caused a small portion of the ceiling in the house to fall. It took several days to get rid of the musty smell. It affected Judy’s health. She had x-rays taken and was prescribed antibiotics.

Judy reached out to local organizations for help. Meanwhile, she placed trashcans and plastic bags to catch any water coming inside.

“I kept thinking, ‘how much longer am I going to have to do this,’” she said. “Then I called Habitat and thank goodness you were my angel.”

Judy was referred to Mark Coffin, Veteran Outreach Coordinator at Habitat for Humanity of Omaha. Mark learned Judy is the widow of Ronald, a United States Navy Veteran who suffered many health issues including heart and lung problems as well as throat and stomach cancer.

Ronald had passed away from stomach cancer a week before his 50th wedding anniversary. Many of his health problems were due to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

“Given the severity of the roof and Judy being in a wheelchair and having limited means, we knew we needed to help her get a new roof for Christmas,” Mark said.

Mark reached out to one of Habitat Omaha’s contractors, Pedro Chavez, owner of La Loma, to repair the roof. Before the end of 2019, Judy had a new roof and a much healthier home. She was impressed with Pedro and his team’s work and professionalism.

“It was the best Christmas gift in the world,” she said.

Mark is happy he was able to help Judy but knows there are many other veterans and families who can’t afford to make necessary repairs to their homes.

“I wish stories like this were uncommon, however, given the nature of our veteran demographic, I’m afraid these types of situations will become more common,” Mark said. “Donations to Habitat Omaha will allow us to continue to have the ability to do projects like Judy’s.”