Agencies Team Up To Top Trailer With New Roof
Update: The web version of this feature was updated correcting a print edition error involving Newtown Garbage Removal - one of the companies donating services for this project.
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After seemingly countless back surgeries and a pesky household leak that ended up causing substantial damage to the interior of her South Main Street mobile home, resident Rita Millo was nearly brought to tears when she learned the original roof was about to collapse.
But after the swift intervention of Friends of Newtown Seniors (FONS) along with Newtown Human Services Director Natalie Jackson, Millo was ready to shed a few tears of joy.
As FONS volunteer Bev Bennett tells it, she and Jackson separately put out calls for help, which were quickly answered by a former Bridgeport police officer who now operates a home service contracting business in Monroe, and a Newtown business owner.
Separately, Bill Pendergast of Newtown Garbage Removal brought in an industrial dumpster while Terry Rooney of Smart Care Exteriors offered to donate all the materials and labor to re-roof the residence — along with a new skylight to replace one that was contributing to the roof deterioration.
Millo told The Bee she would have never been able to afford the work the two local business owners provided. After 28 years in town, she viewed the intervention of Bennett and Jackson as heaven sent.
“God sent her into my life,” Millo said. “She heard I was in trouble and from then on all she wanted to do was help me.”
Bennett, who was involved as a FONS volunteer helping with chore services, knew there were certain individuals who she could call on to “help people like Rita who couldn’t afford a new roof and all this extra work.”
While she initially hoped the project could be completed by local volunteers, one look topside proved this was a job for a professional.
Enter Rooney and his crew, who saw a post about Millo on Facebook, followed by Pendergast, who saw the same post.
“When it comes to safety issues like a roof replacement, that’s where I come in with either volunteers or with a grant that FONS provides to underwrite any work that has to be done,” Bennett said.
After helping Millo following an ice maker malfunction that seeped water onto her kitchen and living room flooring, Bennett learned of the significantly more serious roof problem.
“When Rita called and said she had another puddle, we knew it probably wasn’t the ice maker,” Bennett said. In fact, the deterioration was so bad, water was actually pouring in during a rain storm, so Millo was forced to relocate into a hotel for 18 days until the roof replacement could be arranged and staged.
Rooney said as a former police officer, he understands when emergencies face someone in need, they may require some good old-fashioned neighborly help — even if there may be some measurable expense involved.
On the morning of the project, Rooney spent a few minutes getting to know Millo, and realized they had a few shared acquaintances.
After doing a quick inspection of the progress of his crew from inside, he accompanied the resident outside where the two hugged as workers carried sheets of new plywood up a ladder and hammered away.
By sunset that evening, passersby zipping past her property, which had been teeming with contractor activity just a few hours earlier, would never know anything was amiss, unless they made note of the brand new shingles and skylight topping the modest trailer.
As if Millo were not lucky enough, she will also have the assistance of several Newtown High School football players on May 22, when they come over to do some additional yard work as part of a community service initiative with Newtown Youth & Family Services.
When Bennett reminded her about that activity, Millo immediately insisted on paying for the labor. But Bennett just put her hands up and replied, “All you have to pay is a smile and a thank you.”
Associate Editor John Voket can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.