A new roof for a Vietnam vet

April 16, 2009 4:17:08 PM PDT
Jim Tomkewitz's new roof is site for his sore eyes. It was a deteriorating mess with only tarps and sheet metal keeping the elements out of his Kintnersville, Bucks County home.

Undetected moisture trapped in the eaves caused the problem.

For years, the 62-year-old disabled Vietnam vet couldn't afford the $8,000 repair.

And last year, cancer and subsequent treatments rendered the former subcontractor too sick to do it himself even if he could get supplies.

With end stage colon cancer recently spreading to his liver and lungs, he was afraid for his wife of 40 years.

"[My biggest concern was] leaving my wife stuck with the roof like the way it was and without the money to take care of it," Jim said.

A local Habitat for Humanity volunteer, who's also a contractor, heard about their plight, and had his remodeling industry association e-mail members.

"Within 2 hours, we had 26 people volunteer to go out and to do the roof and all of the materials donated," Kathy Benelli of Remodeling Industry Association said.

Last Saturday, an army of volunteers replaced the roof in 6 hours for free.

Jim compares it to winning the lottery.

"Just for them to say they were going to do our roof. I cried," Jim said.

The new roof has lifted a heavy burden that's long hung over Jim's head and the sense of relief offers him a renewed energy he's using to fight cancer.

"It's just a relief. It's just amazing. These people we cannot thank enough," Pat said.

Today, Jim is grateful for his roof, his wife, and the folks who made sure he won't leave her without a roof over her head.

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