BY NATHAN PAYNE
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A warm house for the winter is something many families take for granted. And it’s something Leslie and Bob Roe have spent the past seven years trying to give to those in need.
The owners of Precision Plumbing and Heating spend a few weeks each December devoting some of their company’s time to replacing one family’s heating and ventilation system for free.
They call it the Extreme Precision Make-Over and it’s a life-changing event for the families on the receiving end.
The families get a brand new high-efficiency Trane furnace donated by the manufacturer and professional installation by Precision’s crews.
They also get any other needed parts and work required to make the systems work properly.
But it’s also been an eye-opener for the people who do the work, Roe said.
“It’s been heartbreaking,” Leslie Roe said. “You kind of get a glimpse of their lives.”
Roe has sifted through people nominated by their friends and neighbors for years.
They are people who wouldn’t ask for help, and often think of others before they think of themselves, she said.
Two years ago the recipients were George and Kimberly Shumar, a couple who tiptoed on the edge of financial ruin when their newborn baby girl had to be hospitalized at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.
George had been out of work for two years since being laid off during the recession and Kimberly lost her two part-time jobs when she had to take time off to be by her daughter’s side.
Meanwhile, the couple was paying as much as $500 per month to heat their home because their outdated furnace pumped hot air only into a small basement.
“They’re just trying to pay for their groceries,” Roe said.
Workers from the company quickly installed a new furnace donated by Trane heating and cooling and new duct work to connect it to the rest of the house.
The effort reduced the couple’s winter heating bills to about $125.
Two years later, Roe found herself face-to-face with a single mother, Susan Campbell, who adopted two young boys with special needs.
The cost of care for the boys combined with Campbell’s tight budget to make it impossible for her to replace her home’s dilapidated furnace.
“It was red-flagged several times,” Roe said. “We replaced the ancient furnace and got someone to install concrete service steps on the front of her house.”
Still, Campbell refused to allow the crews to do extra work on her home that would replace a second heating system she had been using.
“She said, ‘Give it to someone else in need,’” Roe said.
Now Roe is asking for nominations of other deserving families who could use some help staying warm this winter.
If you’d like to nominate someone, go to www.precisiontc.com/makeover.htm and fill out the nomination form by the end of the day Sunday.