Angels on Call answers a prayer
Published: December 6, 2006 | 5153rd good news item since 2003
Carol Alford is the sort of woman who finds it tough to turn her back on someone in a jam.
So when a stray puppy showed up on her front porch recently, Alford didn’t hesitate to take her in and provide her with a permanent roof over her head.
But when the 78-year-old retiree found herself in a wet mess last spring because of that same roof, she soon gave up all hope of being rescued by anyone with a kind heart.
“We had leaks in our roof and with the money our insurance company gave us, we paid someone to fix it,” said the mom of six, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of seven.
In preparation, the workers took off the entire high-pitched roof of her central Phoenix home.
Then they took off with her money.
Family members quickly covered the bare trusses with bright blue plastic tarps as the summer rains moved into the Valley.
“I’d watch the sky and the minute it looked like rain, I’d get out every pot and pan I had that would hold water,” said Alford, who fought the drippy elements without much success.
But it wasn’t long before the rains ruined the interior of her 1932 vintage home, damaging wood floors, walls and ceilings while providing a perfect environment for mold.
Securing a loan was futile, and while family members were willing to donate some cash, estimates as high as $14,500 for a new roof put the home improvement far beyond Alford’s financial reach.
“I was so upset that I lost 37 pounds,” said the normally slender senior, who has shared the Tudor-style house with her husband, Burl, for the past 45 years. “The neighbors were complaining because of the tarps, and I couldn’t blame them. I was so embarrassed that I wouldn’t go out in the front yard.”
It was one of her neighbors, however, the president of her F.Q. Story Historic District’s preservation association steering committee, who introduced Alford to her salvation.
“I put her in touch with Dee Larson and Angels on Call, who does small repairs for people in need,” said the neighbor, Steve Dreiseszun.
But this was no small repair.
“And I made her no promises,” said Larson, program manager for Angels on Call, the Valley-wide program sponsored by Stardust Building Supplies Inc., that provides no-cost home repairs to homeowners on low, fixed incomes.
“We usually don’t do jobs as big as roofs,” said Larson, who added that the 6-year-old program is more inclined to have its team of skilled volunteers tackle leaky pipes, install hot water heaters or paint the exterior of a house or two with materials secured from the two Stardust warehouses. “But this seemed like a special case.”
After a few phone calls, Larson, who has worked for Angels on Call since September, was able to get ABC Supply Co. in Mesa to donate all the roofing supplies, Gryphon Companies Inc. in Mesa to provide the labor at a discounted price, Homewerx Home Inspections in Mesa to analyze her mold problem for free, and Global Prevention Services in Scottsdale to donate all the products for the mold remediation.
Normally, Angels On Call provides not only the materials but also the labor at no charge to qualifying homeowners.
“But in this case, since we were not using people from our labor pool of volunteers, she will have to pay for the labor,” said Todd Singley, executive director of Stardust Building Supplies.
Still, Alford will save more than $8,000 just on roofing materials.
And with her new roof that was completed only days before Thanksgiving, along with the removal of mold, Alford will be able to secure a reverse mortgage, which will provide her with enough money to make other, much-needed repairs on her home.
“A man in the neighborhood is going to make me new windows and replace things like my front door, and we’ll also paint the outside,” Alford said. “Then one of the my grandsons is going to help me fix up the yard.”
Alford figures it will be six months before she can get her home back in shape and maybe even longer before her health catches up.
“I think I’ve gained back a little weight, but I’ve been so down about this that I couldn’t talk about it without crying,” she said.
That was until Larson came into her life.
“God sent her to me,” said Alford, who added she once feared she would accidentally burn down her parish church because of all the candles she lighted there, seeking divine intervention.
But Larson and Angels On Call are just getting geared up to help others like Alford.
“Our goal is to do two to three smaller projects in a week and in a year, be doing six to eight a week or 200 to 300 projects a year,” Singley said.