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Beaver volunteers reroof North Huntingdon woman's home free of charge

| Saturday, April 28, 2012, 2:58 a.m.

Libby Sam and her family said they prayed to God for help when her 27-year-old roof started leaking this spring.

Water spots showed through the ceiling of her dining room, kitchen and back bedroom earlier this year. In last week's storms, the leaks worsened.

"I don't know what I was going to do. I couldn't afford to fix it," said Sam, 86, while sitting in a rocking chair in her living room. The small, thin woman wore a sweater and a blanket covered her lap, despite the 82-degree heat outside.

Then a miracle happened, she said.

Hosanna Industries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building and rehabilitating homes for elderly and single-parent homeowners, arrived at Sam's house Wednesday morning with 56 volunteer workers and two pallets of shingles to put a new roof on her red brick home in North Huntingdon.

The volunteers, ranging in age from 10 to 60, came from two Virginia Presbyterian churches. They are spending the week working with Hosanna Industries in Rochester, Beaver County.

"I knew they were coming, but I didn't know it would be such a big thing," Sam said. "It's just unbelievable, especially all these young people and girls."

Sam's son-in-law, A. Joseph Gazal, called Hosanna Industries after remembering working with the organization in past years as a social worker. After a short over-the-phone application and an inspection to see if the repairs were feasible, the volunteers arrived.

Commonly known as reroofing, the group secured new roofing tiles over her existing roof, said David Firek, rehabilitation supervisor.

Sam said she didn't have the money for the project and the organization gave her a full grant for the work. The labor and materials will cost her nothing.

Gazal gave a heartfelt speech to the volunteers and Hosanna Industries staff during a lunch break.

"My mother-in-law and I prayed. We prayed for help. And here you are," he said. "You're making an impact on people, you're making an impact on us. I want to thank you for being here today. I don't know how we would have gotten this taken care of otherwise."

Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Yorktown, Va., raised $12,000 to bring 30 people to Hosanna Industries campus for the week.

"It's really nice to see the effect of your work," 15-year-old Sarah Winkowski said as she used a knife to cut roofing into triangular corner pieces.

Hosanna Industries is a particularly good organization to work with for mission trips, "because they know what they're doing," added Deacon Shirley Pearson of the Leesburg Presbyterian Church. "They're good construction managers and they're good construction teachers."

As Sam looked out her living room window at the commotion going on in her front yard, she said over and over again, "I just can't believe it."

"Well believe it, Mom," Gazal said. "It's the miracle we've been asking for."

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