'I've never experienced anything like this,' says Air Force veteran who received gift of kindness and thanks

Posted at 6:57 PM, May 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-08 19:21:04-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — As a thank you for his military service, U.S. Air Force veteran Michael Johnson received a generous gift from a group of strangers who felt more like friends when they were done working at his home Wednesday.

'I wouldn't have been able to have it done any other way. So this was really a godsend for us," said Johnson as he stood outside his home where roofers were busy at work.

"Mr. Johnson's roof was bad," said Ryan Gasparotto of Schoenherr Roofing. "Finding out that he served in the Air Force, served in Vietnam, which my dad did as well. So, we were able to form that connection and just talk about some of the similarities between him and my dad."

Owens Corning contacted Schoenherr Roofing, a Romeo-based company, to replace Johnson's roof as part of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project. And Owens Corning supplied the materials and Schoenherr Roofing supplied the labor, all at no cost to the Vietnam veteran.

"I'm just so incredibly grateful," said Johnson. "I never expected anything like this."

Several years ago, Johnson began to realize their roof was deteriorating fast and his home insurance declined to cover any work it needed. So he recently reached out to Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County and Johnson was selected to receive the roof replacement.

"Michael is a terrific individual. He served in our Air Force for quite some time so being able to do something for him after he sacrificed so much, not just for Schoenherr Roofing or Owens Corning but for everyone who lives in this country," said Caleb Nichols of the roofing company.

It appeared the problem with the Johnsons' roof is that it hasn't had any ventilation for decades, trapping heat and moisture.

"When I was walking up there doing my inspection, it was breaking under my feet," said Gasparotto.

Schoenherr Roofing said it's typically easy for people to do a quick check to help ensure the longevity of their roof.

"If you want to get into your attic, just make sure that your soffit vents aren't blocked by your insulation," said Nichols.

Gasparotto adds that signs of improper ventilation can include wood starting to sag between the rafters in attic areas and, on the outside of a home, the curling of shingles.

Johnson said he and his wife are looking forward to having a stable roof over their heads.

"We don't have to worry about any potential roof issues or any mold or anything like that. So, we're very pleased, very grateful," Johnson said.

Everyone involved hopes other companies consider finding ways to help others who could use a helping hand.

"I would like to urge any company that might see this to reach out and start doing something in their community," said Nichols.

Since the start of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project in 2016, more than 550 military members have received new roofs.