He easily could have looked the other way, but John Rosa chose not to.
He had noticed that his neighbor across the street didn’t go out much, maybe only once or twice a month. And he never saw visitors there.
Last June, her roof caved in because of longstanding water on a flat structure. Months passed, and it was getting cold.
Rosa couldn’t wait any longer. He had to try to help.
“Ann has been my neighbor for about five years, though we only met this past Christmas Eve,” he said. “Ann is in her mid-50s. Another neighbor had mentioned to me that Ann only ventured out twice a month to shop for food, but otherwise kept to herself at home.
“A neighbor originally told me the roof had collapsed under a heavy snow, but Ann explained later that her ceiling was water-damaged due to the roof leaking, and finally gave way in June last year. She had gotten several estimates to repair it, but I was never contacted in that regard as she and I had not yet met.”
On Dec. 23, the forecast was for temperatures near zero. Knowing about the damaged roof and that Ann had no working heat other than a small electric space heater, Rosa thought it was possible that she might not survive the night.
“I couldn’t simply ignore that, so I asked another neighbor Ann had spoken to before to knock on her door,” he said. “I confirmed her situation, and I offered her a larger heater and an arctic-rated sleeping bag to get her through the night.
“She was surprised, as again we had never met before, but she gladly accepted the offer. I also learned her furnace wasn’t problematic but that she was out of oil due to her oil assistance being cut off months before.”
Rosa didn’t have the heater and sleeping bag on hand; he went to Wal-Mart and bought them for Ann.
“Later, when I got home, I thought about trying to raise funds to buy a tank full of oil, but then figured if I was going to beg for money, why not ask for enough to fix the roof too?” he said.
“I shared the fundraiser link in several Sussex-area Facebook groups and the response was just incredible. In about 10 days, we’d raised $12,000. More impressively, though, so many had volunteered labor and supplies to get her home repaired. The community really stepped up.”
Sean Van Hook, facility director at Fairview Lake YMCA Camp, saw Ann’s story on Facebook.
“I’d been following the story from the beginning, so last week I got the go-ahead from my boss, and myself and other faculty members went up to Ann’s house and spent a few hours to clean up and make it nice and pretty,” he said. “Up and Above roof is coming this week to volunteer to do the roof repairs.”
Van Hook grabbed the facility team of James Sliker, Jason Beshede and Liz Pattermann to help out.
“Blue Ridge Lumber is also donating materials to replace part of the deck,” Pattermann said, “It was great to be able to help out, and we were there for about four hours.”
To help out Ann, go online to the GoFundMe page that Rosa created at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-me-help-ann-repair-her-home