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Turnaboutís fair play as man receives help with house rehab
Turnabout’s fair play as man receives help with house rehab
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Burton Village residents and a Kirtland church chose to give back this month to a village man who has given so much to the community.
Volunteers from Spring Street and Kirtland Christian Fellowship have spent their weekends putting a fresh face on a 150-year-old home at 13740 Spring St., where resident Jerry Welch lives.
Mr. Welch, who has been part of the community since childhood, is known around the community for the charitable work he has done. He shovels the sidewalks around his church, helps with the Burton Fire Department’s annual pancake breakfasts, picks up trash after the high school football games, cleans the baseball fields and always has been there when a helping hand is needed.
“He gives and never asks anything in return,” said Tiffany Smetana, a neighbor and member of the church. “To know him is to love him.”
The need for the work became evident when Mr. Welch’s niece, Kelly Dines, who cares for her 67-year-old uncle, stepped out on the front porch one day and her foot broke through old floorboards.
“It snowballed from there,” Mrs. Smetana said. “Neighbors began coming out and saying, ‘We can do this, I can help here.’”
Mrs. Smetana proposed the idea of using her Kirtland church’s program Be the Church to aid in the project. It encourages church members to get up from their pews and aid the communities in which they live.
Another organization doing charitable work, Party for a Purpose, joined forces with church members to provide more than 50 volunteers one weekend to aid in replacing rotting wood, rebuilding porches, scraping and painting, and putting a new shine on an old house.
It also brought out neighbors like Arch Uawtowski and Craig Martin to help where they could.
Mrs. Smetana said local businesses donated their time and materials to aid in the effort. JC’s Restaurant fed the crew at no charge, she said.
Miss Dines said without the help the work would not likely be done. The work amounts to thousands of dollars in material and labor, something that was likely beyond their means.
But, she said, she had no doubt how much heart the Burton community has.
“I knew everyone would pull together,” she said. “This is a loving community and the last two weeks proves that. My heart, no doubt, is overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.”
Mrs. Smetana said her churches program, now in its third year, has performed 20 service projects in Lake and Geauga counties. One project, to build a handicap ramp, allowed a man to leave his home for the first time in five years.
While the community’s generosity has helped Mr. Welch and Miss Dines, they and their helpers need a little more help from the community.
The groups are holding a fundraiser Sept. 15 at Grandview Restaurant in Claridon to raise money for gutters and windows that are needed for the home. It will feature a buffet-style dinner, a Chinese auction and a 50-50 raffle. Those seeking more information are asked to call Emily Martin at 440-554-7518 or Kristin Klingman at 440-477-9848. The two women will also be accepting donations from individuals or companies to aid in the project.
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