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The neighborly thing to do
Brandon man gathers help, donations to re-shingle roof for neighbors in need
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

October 16. 2013 9:55AM
For the last four years, Jon Meyerink has looked out his window and noticed that his neighbor’s roof was in need of dire repair.

Just over a week ago, Meyerink took action to help his neighbors, Julie and Norm Smith.

“I’ve looked at this roof for the past four years and a I was always wondering why they hadn’t been replacing it,” Meyerink explained Friday.

Meyerink, an estimator for Total Fire Protection in Brandon, visited with a friend who lives down the street and does roofing. “I told him to come down and take a look at it, and that’s when he found out she’s been battling breast cancer. He told me that they couldn’t afford to replace it, so I decided it was time to do something,” Meyerink said.

So Meyerink enlisted the help of friends, local businesses and the 15-member MED-Star Race Rescue Team, and sought donations of money and materials. Meyerink also posted the endeavor on his Facebook page.

“There are people all over the country donating to this right now,” he said.

On Friday, volunteers tore off the cracked and curled up shingles and tar paper, and by Saturday afternoon, they had the shingling job wrapped up. As of Monday, all of the costs had been covered, Meyerink said.

“They are my angels,” Julie Smith said Friday as a crew of five removed the dilapidated shingles from her ranch-style home. “It was a big burden, but they always say, ‘God’s an amazing person.’ ”

Smith said she had no reservations when approached on the idea. “We said ‘yes.’ It was like an answer to God’s prayers,” she said. “I said I’m not too proud, and I gave him hugs, of course.”

Diagnosed with breast cancer on April 27, 2008 – Smith, 56, remembers the date well.
She had developed double vision at work and went to see an optometrist, who referred her to have an MRI. The MRI showed two tumors – one on her pituitary gland, the other on her right optic nerve. The tumors led to the source of her cancer: it was in her breast and lymph nodes.

While Smith says she “feels well now,” she adds doctors suspect the cancer may be coming back in her bones. The type of cancer she has feeds on estrogen, so Smith takes an estrogen blocker every day and now does once-a-month injections.

But on this October Friday afternoon, the worries of the cost of a much-needed home repair and her breast cancer were long forgotten.
Jay Masur, owner of MED-Star’s Race Rescue Team, says the organization plans to do more good deeds in Brandon. “Our Race Rescue Team is going to volunteer our time and money to do one to two projects a year. We’re going to find a need and do what we can to help with those needs,” he said. “This project was just the first one.”

Helping with neighborly endeavor were Traci Meyerink, Anthony Meyerink, Jeremy Neitzel, Christine Langner, Dustin Wagner, Danny Wagner, Matt Nelson, Mike Nelson, MED-Star’s Race Rescue Team and Brandon Ace Hardware.

“It makes me feel good,” Meyerink said.

“I know how he feels,” Smith responded. “It makes you feel good to help someone.”

And sometimes, it’s just the neighborly thing to do, he said.

The Smith home at 212 N. Needles Drive was in need of new shingles until a neighbor stepped up to help get the job done last week. Pictured are, from left: Volunteers Jeremy Neitzel and Anthony Meyerink, homeowner Julie Smith, volunteers Jon Meyerink, Traci Meyerink and Christine Langner. Julie Smith said the roof project was put on hold after her April 2088 breast cancer diagnosis. Photo by Jill Meier

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