Impact Story: Tom, Kathy, and Brooke

Tom, a Rockford veteran whose roof was repaired by RAHFH in 2020

Late in 2020, The Home Depot Foundation provided Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity (RAHFH) with funding to complete two critical roof repairs for two veterans in Rockford. We partnered with Ken-Z roofing to complete the repairs in December.

One of the roof repairs was for Tom, a 92-year-old veteran. This isn’t his family’s only connection to Habitat for Humanity.

First nail for the construction of Brooke’s home. From left to right: Brooke, her oldest son, and her stepfather.

Tom’s daughter and caretaker, Kathy, has a daughter named Brooke– and Brooke is a Habitat homeowner in Georgia! She moved into her home in December of 2020. Brooke described her journey to homeownership as exciting and educational. Though the process was overwhelming at times, Brooke said it was fulfilling to be so involved with building and buying her own home.

Both Kathy and Brooke’s stepfather were able to walk alongside Brooke through the process in unique ways. Her stepdad stayed in Georgia for a couple of months to help with sweat equity hours, and Kathy was able to surprise Brooke by flying down to Georgia for Brooke’s home dedication.

Kathy and Brooke at Brooke’s home dedication in December 2020

“I hadn’t seen my daughter in a year and a half,” Kathy said. “That’s another miracle. I was able to be there for the dedication of her home.”

When Kathy mentioned to Brooke that Tom’s roof needed repaired, Brooke reached out to RAHFH to see if there were any programs in place to help with home repairs, which got the process started.

Everything with the roofing repair began to move forward, and in Kathy’s words, “it fell into place”.

 Brooke says sharing a connection to Habitat with her grandpa is something she feels grateful for.

“I’m incredibly honored to be a partner family with Habitat,” Brooke said. “Not only was I fortunate enough to fulfill my dream of homeownership through Habitat, but because of the amazing veterans program [RAHFH] offers, my 92 year old grandpa no longer has to worry about a leaking roof.”

The roof repair lifted a burden from both Tom and Kathy’s shoulders. Because of difficult circumstances related to the pandemic, Kathy said she and her husband were unsure whether they would have been able to fully repair the roof. But what she’s most grateful for is the peace that this repair has given Tom.

The roof repair on Tom’s home in progress.

“He sits in his wheelchair, and he looks out his window, and he says, ‘I’m so thankful,’” Kathy said. “He says he sleeps better at night, knowing that he has a good roof over his head now. He’s said that several times.”

Brooke, Kathy, and Tom’s stories, both individually and collectively, illustrate how Habitat’s work isn’t just about building a house or a roof. It isn’t that simple. It’s about empowering people to experience the stability and fulfillment of buying and owning a home. It’s about the peace of mind that comes with knowing that every part of home (including a roof!) is safe and secure. It’s about families, and the long term, tangible impacts that quality, affordable housing can have. And that makes all the difference.

Brooke’s youngest son holding the keys to their new home.