When Kathryn Thompson found out that the roof of her longtime Sumner home was starting to leak, she knew she had to do something to help it.
The home had been her mother’s, who passed away ten years ago and left it to Thompson and her brother, John.
“It was my parents’ house and I lived in it all my life,” said Thompson, 58. “It’s the first one they built.”
The house was built 56 years ago in 1960. Over time, it fell into disrepair.
“(The leak) started near the living room,” Thompson said. “It started dripping and then it just got worse.”
A brand new roof was too expensive for Thompson, who works three hours a week cleaning local businesses and schools for ServiceMaster. So she turned to the place that had helped her before — Faith Covenant Church in Sumner, which she attends regularly.
“They’re a lovely group of people and they just make you feel at home,” Thompson said.
Donna Vande Kieft, pastor of Care Ministries at the church, stepped in to help. She knew Thompson well and had previously helped her apply for health care.
“She was able to start going to the doctor and the dentist, and got new glasses,” Vande Kieft said. “We were really concerned about the roof this year with the winter coming.”
When Vande Kieft received an email from John Thompson, Kathy’s 56-year-old brother and roommate, asking for assistance, she started looking for help.
We had to strategically plan the delivery of all the roofing material so that we could complete it in the afternoon. I’m thrilled at how this all came together.
Joel Beattie, owner of Chase Construction North West
She found Guardian Roofing in Tacoma, a roofing company that gives away a free new roof installation every year to someone who needs it. Thompson applied for the new roof and received enough online votes to be one of the four finalists. At first, it looked like she was going to win, but then others started to pass her in votes.
The day before the Guardian Roofing online voting ended, Vande Kieft got a call from Joel Beattie, a family member of someone from her church. Beattie owns his own roofing company, Chase Construction North West, and operates out of Edgewood. He wanted to install a new roof on Kathy’s home, and said that if she won the other competition, to tell them to give it to the second-place winner so that he could do Kathy’s anyway, said Vande Kieft.
A friend of Beattie’s from Blyton Gutter Company in Spanaway even agreed to donate new gutters.
“I was sitting on the patio and we started crying,” recalled Vande Kieft. “We’re calling it Kathy’s Miracle of Hope.”
The next day, on July 30, the voting ended, and Thompson didn’t win the new roof. But she still had Beattie’s offer.
Thompson was scheduled to get her new roof on Aug. 29. Chase Construction North West would finish the entire job in a single day.
“We had to strategically plan the delivery of all the roofing material so that we could complete it in the afternoon,” Beattie said. “I’m thrilled at how this all came together.”
Beattie’s six-person crew arrived at Thompson’s house around 7 a.m. There were two “journeymen,” or roofing professionals, two apprentices and two laborers. They worked straight through the day as church friends stopped by to offer support for Thompson, and left around 5 p.m.
Toward the end of the day, a member of the Faith Covenant Church showed up to lend Thompson a motorized scooter.
Thompson is well-known by Sumner residents because of her frequent walks around the neighborhood with her Chihuahua, Stewie. She even walks every Sunday to Faith Covenant Church, which is only a block away from her house.
(Kathryn) knows everyone in the neighborhood. It’s a community she’s known all her life.
Donna Vande Kieft, pastor of Faith Covenant Church in Sumner
“She knows everyone in the neighborhood,” Vande Kieft said. “It’s a community she’s known all her life.”
In recent years, mobility has been difficult for Thompson because of issues with her foot and leg. Vande Kieft is currently working with her to get Supplemental Security Income, which helps people with disabilities who have little or no income.
Both Chase Construction North West and the Faith Covenant Church do mission projects all over the world. This isn’t the first time they’ve helped someone in need, but Thompson’s situation hits close to home.
“This is kind of a new experience for us,” said Vande Kieft, whose church has gone on both local and international missions. “Kathy’s almost in our backyard.”
Beattie has taken his company’s team overseas for roofing projects to places like Thailand and Uganda.
“The gal really needed help,” he said about Thompson. “It feels good. It’s really special to be in the community of Sumner.”
While Thompson’s roof has been a concern for years, Vande Kieft enlisted the help of Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that builds homes for those in need, last September. While the organization couldn’t install a new roof, it was able to send out workers to repaint Thompson’s house and scrape off the overgrown vegetation.
“It’s taken our whole community to pitch in,” Vande Kieft said. “People have just come through with amazing generosity and spirit.”