Vet organizations come together, help veteran repair his roof.

June 29, 2020

Vet organizations come together, help veteran repair his roof.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

EDEN TOWNSHIP — Laverne (Vern) Beeman, 74, served his country as a heavy truck driver in the U.S. Army from 1964 to 1967, with much of his service spent in Germany. He then returned home, raised a family and worked in construction and maintenance. His wife Catherine (Cathy), 72, raised that family with him, also while working. When Vern was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it meant that neither one of them could work any longer. Cathy had to stay home to take care of her husband. Their income drastically was reduced but, unfortunately, wasn’t low enough to receive a lot of state assistance.

“When we first recognized my mom needed more help with my dad than what the family could provide, we were told that Hospice would help even though he wasn’t at the end of his life,” said daughter Tonya Moore. “Hospice came out, visited with my parents, and indicated because he could still dress himself, there was nothing they could do.”

Tonya said Hospice suggested home-care service was available, but that it would be costly. 

“We were devastated and not sure where to turn next,” Tonya said. “We expressed our concern and asked if there were any organizations that could help, as my parents were having difficulty already meeting their monthly bills and couldn’t afford any additional expenses. That’s when Hospice told us about Mason County Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund, because my Dad was a veteran.

“That organization did help with propane that fall for my parents,” Tonya said. “When they needed another fill in late winter, my parents received a call from TrueNorth Community Services which filled their propane tank. I honestly don’t know how my parents would have gotten through the winter without the help of those organizations.”

“My parents have never asked for anything from the government their whole lives,” Tonya said. “My dad proudly served his country during the Vietnam era and they both worked for a living. When they were in their moment of need, we had hoped that there would be assistance but there wasn’t.”

The Beemans have lived in their East Major Road home for about seven years. Vern did a lot of renovation work to the home when they moved in, but never got to the roof. Their roof was in bad shape but they knew they couldn’t afford to have it replaced. The roof repairs were estimated between $6,000 to $8,000. 

Tonya contacted Jim Wincek, director of Mason County Department of Veterans Affairs, to find out if he could help them. 

Home maintenance and/or repairs are not a federal statutory VA benefit. 

“He could have just ended it right there, but instead he got the ball rolling to find help for my parents.” 

“ I turned to a group of local agencies who have partnered with each other to combine resources on previous veteran-related projects,” Jim said. “These agencies included HELP Ministries, The Mason County Veterans Endowment Fund and the Mason County Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund.  Upon hearing the circumstances of this family, these agencies immediately committed to helping the Beemans  with the roof repairs. 

“However, the total cost of this project was significantly larger than any assistance these agencies  had provided on previous occasions,” Jim said. “As we discussed strategy for the Beeman project among ourselves, one of the members, Gary Ferguson, made the suggestion that we approach the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF) in Lansing to see if it would be interested in joining our coalition to create a public-private partnership to accomplish our goal of repairing the Beeman’s roof.”

Jim said he sent a single email to Lindell Holm, director of MVTF. “He immediately and enthusiastically replied and supported our plan,” Jim said. “He told us that MVTF was very interested in creating partnerships with local communities and organizations to meet the needs of Michigan’s veterans.  This would be the first project of its kind in Mason County.

“After a few subsequent telephone calls and email exchanges, all parties, including the Beeman family, agreed to the level of their respective contributions for the project.  As a partnership of organizations, marshaling our resources, we were able to cover the entire cost of the project.  In saying that, however, it is important to understand that this project would not have been possible without the participation and partnership MVTF.”

Last week, MD Home Services, owned by Mike Darke of Ludington, repaired the roof. 

“Jim did the leg work and he certainly receives credit for making this all happen,” Cathy said. “We are also thankful to Tonya for making this happen.” 

“I think this is something that happens to a lot of people my parent’s ages,” Tonya said. “They find that the system is very hard to navigate and they give up. My advice is don’t give up. There are people and agencies who will help.” 

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This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

 

 

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