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Published: Thursday, 11/25/2004

Family gets home makeover

BY STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Emily, left, Kathleen, and Brendan Vilfroy react as they enter their refurbished home. Emily, left, Kathleen, and Brendan Vilfroy react as they enter their refurbished home.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

Three weeks ago, Kathy Vilfroy and her two children lived in a leaking, mold-infested two-bedroom trailer in Perrysburg Township.

Yesterday, the family came home to a newly renovated three-bedroom mobile home, complete with a new kitchen, bathroom, and furniture, thanks to more than 60 volunteers from CedarCreek Church.

"Oh my God," gasped Ms. Vilfroy, a member of the church.

Holding her hands to her tear-stained face, she stepped out of a cold, driving rain into her sparkling new kitchen. Around her, church members beamed.

"We put in new cabinets for you guys," said Kyle Gray, a pastor at the Perrysburg Township church. "New appliances, new fixtures."

"Thank you so much," Ms. Vilfroy replied, her voice breaking.

Mr. Gray said the church began the fix-up project with the idea of creating separate bedrooms for Ms. Vilfroy's son, Brendan, 13, and daughter, Emily, 12, by taking space from their mother's room. The children shared a room with bunk beds, and she wanted them to have their own space.

But from that simple goal and a budget of $2,000, the project grew into a $30,000 renovation that included a new kitchen with range, microwave, and double sink; a new bathroom with a fiberglas tub/shower surround; new carpeting and vinyl flooring; new windows, furnace, and air conditioning, and fresh paint throughout.

"They started with the children's rooms, and look what they gave us," Ms. Vilfroy said.

The cost of the project was covered by the church and donations from local businesses. During construction, the Vilfroys lived in motel rooms and paid for their meals with restaurant gift certificates, provided by the church and its donors.

"We wanted to do something for somebody in the church who couldn't get it done herself," Mr. Gray said.

Ms. Vilfroy, who owns the mobile home and has lived there for 17 years, works in accounts receivable for Midwest Fluid Power of Toledo. She said she loves her job but couldn't afford to fix up her trailer, which was damaged years ago when branches from a tree growing overhead punctured the structure's roof.

"We were desperately in need of major repairs," she said.

Ms. Vilfroy and her children were wide-eyed as Mr. Gray and other church members led them through the rest of the home.

"Oh my God, oh my God," Brendan shouted as he stepped into his new bedroom, furnished with a fish tank and a black, hand-made daybed with built-in drawers and a red comforter emblazoned with the logo of his favorite sports team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. "I can't believe this is my room!"

Tears rolled down Ms. Vilfroy's face as she watched him.

"Mom, come here, look," Emily exclaimed from the room next door, a bedroom with sky-blue walls and a white daybed.

A few minutes later, Ms. Vilfroy stood in her new living room and thanked volunteers.

"You are so awesome," she said. "We are so blessed. We could never thank you enough, but we'll certainly try."

She hugged Craig Brubaker, who installed the home's new windows and vinyl flooring. Mr. Brubaker, a union carpenter who is laid off, said he was glad to help.

"It was an honor to do it," he said. "It's really neat to see the expression on their faces. It's hard to believe this many people could come together and put something together so fast."

Contact Steve Murphy at:

smurphy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078.



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