Minnie Hollingshed stood on the porch of her Fulton Street home - amid hammers banging and saws whirring and men yelling - and quietly contemplated the blessings buzzing around her.
Not only were these men properly fixing the considerable holes in her roof, the ones that transformed her kitchen into a sea of buckets every time it rained, but they were doing it for free.
The best part, the real blessing, Ms. Hollingshed said, was that the person who made the miracle happen was a son she thought she lost long ago to a life of crime - a son who seems to have turned his life around by finding a new life off Fulton Street and in Fulton County.
"This is such a happy day for me, to know that people care enough for him to come here and do this work," the 73-year-old woman said yesterday, smiling as she surveyed the neighborhood near Scott High School from her front porch.
Thirty feet above her head, her son, Tyrone Burks, 45, hoisted an uncooperative sheet of wood across a particularly spongy portion of her roof.
Tired of bouncing between jail and Fulton Street, Burks agreed in March to try starting a new life in Archbold with help from community activist Cecily Rohrs.
Within weeks of leaving the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker, Burks was living in Archbold with his first-ever regular job, a stable lifestyle, and new friends.
As his life began to change, he reconnected with his mother and offered to try to fix her roof himself.
"When it rained, she had such a sad look on her face. I wanted to take that look away, if I could," Burks said. "I was just going to put some tarps over it, just cover it up, but that wouldn't have worked."
In Archbold, Burks connected with a friend of Mrs. Rohrs, Karlin Wyse, and when he asked to borrow a 30-foot extension ladder, Mr. Wyse, a manager of Lugbill Supply in Archbold, offered to help.
Mr. Wyse drove with Burks from Fulton County to Fulton Street, inspected his mother's attic, and quickly realized how big a job the repair was.
"I went up in the attic and looked at it, and it wasn't good," Mr. Wyse said.
He began calling local friends in the construction trades and suppliers to his business. Before too long, Mr. Wyse had the whole job lined up and ready to go.
Helping Burks were experts from Archbold who had agreed to donate labor and materials to re-roof his mother's home.
"It's so much different in Archbold," Burks yelled down as he waited for another sheet of strand board to be sent up. "I never volunteered to help anyone. But there, everyone helps everyone else, and as long as you're willing to help yourself, they're willing to help you."
Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:
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