Charles Allen was hard at work shining shoes at a Las Vegas casino when the right man sat down at his station. Kenneth D. Goodrich, who owns the Las Vegas-based Honeybee AC, in addition to other plumbing and HVAC businesses, was at the casino for a Lennox dealer meeting and needed a quick shine.
When he’s not shining shoes, Allen is an elder for a small downtown Las Vegas church, Zion Holiness Last Trumpet Ministries. More than two years ago, the church’s air conditioning unit was vandalized, stripped of its copper tubing and wiring. The church, despite its best fundraising efforts, could not afford a replacement. So, the congregation was forced to make do with fans to provide some semblance of relief from the sweltering Las Vegas heat.
Goodrich and Allen talked about air conditioners and his experience in the industry. Eventually, Allen shared the story of the stolen copper. Moved by the plight of a small church in need, Goodrich decided something needed to be done.
Goodrich told Allen he would search for a used air conditioning unit and remain in touch. Goodrich also owns the Arizona-based Goettl Air Conditioning and figured he could procure a used Goettl unit. A few days later, Goodrich called and said he had a 3.5-ton unit available. He sent a technician to the church, but unfortunately the technician deemed the unit too small to suit the church’s needs. It was back to the drawing board for Goodrich, who went in search of a 4-ton unit
Goodrich was able to obtain a new 4-ton unit, donated by air conditioning and heating manufacturer Goodman Amana and valued at $8,700.
“We’ve accomplished some things, but we’ve never been blessed so graciously,” Allen said. “Somehow, some way, he ended up giving us a brand new unit. We’ve been blessed. Totally blessed. I never, ever thought it would lead to this, but he’s blessed us, and we appreciate it.”
“I am pleased to help anyone who will roll up their sleeves and work for what they need,” Goodrich added. “Charles takes great pride in his work, and that was evident when I sat in his chair. He was working extremely hard in the hopes of one day replacing what had been stolen from his church.”
It was a dream come true for Allen, whom along with his congregation, had been saving money to purchase a new unit. And now, the days of canceling services on 110-degree days and reducing the number of choir rehearsals were over.
In the past, on Sundays when the heat was too much to bear, Allen would post a sign on the front entrance that read, “No services this Sunday.” Sunday school sessions were also often canceled.
“Oftentimes, we did not want to have a long service, especially with the elderly and young ones,” Allen said. “It’s too hot. So, now we’ll be cool.”
On a Thursday morning in April, three days before Easter, it was time for the installation. A crane lifted the old air conditioning unit off the roof.
“The first thing we did on the roof was prepare the existing elbow that had been there for 50 years,” said Curt Coker, general manager of Honeybee AC and sister company, The Sunny Plumber.
The old elbow needed to be cleaned out thoroughly in order to install the unit. Transitional metal allowed the new unit to fit into the old metal that was adhered to the roof.
Once the transitional metal was secured to the elbow, Honeybee AC technicians fastened it with screws and sealant before the crane, donated by Walker Crane, lifted the new 4-ton AC unit to the roof. The installers wired the unit and hooked it up to the drain line to ensure it functioned properly. There were no issues, and Honeybee AC immediately called to schedule an inspection with the city.
“You have to be experienced to do a job like this because the old elbow was a mess,” Coker said. “We just had to get it all cleaned and prepped to allow us to put the transition to the new unit on. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it is a simple job, but sometimes it gets real dirty. This one was a lot of work to get ready.”
Throughout the day, Allen’s smile did not waver. He reflected on the years of struggle that finally led to a stroke of good fortune.
“I talked to Mr. Allen during and after the installation,” Coker said. “He said Ken is truly a man sent from God and couldn’t believe the circumstances; that he bumped into him like that. We’re in the service business. It’s especially gratifying when you help out a church or an organization that provides services to the community and receives little or no support from the community.”
Goodrich said he happened to be in the right place at the right time and that Allen’s personable nature and commitment to his congregation won him over.
“When we see a need in the community, we do our best to fill it,” Goodrich said. “We donated the labor and miscellaneous materials, everything that was needed to install the unit. It was a community effort to provide this service for the church at zero cost, and we were thrilled to help a man whose life’s mission is to help others. He is truly a special individual.”
On Easter Sunday, more than 150 congregants crowded into Zion Holiness Last Trumpet Ministries. The fans that once dotted the church floor were nowhere to be found. For the first time in more than two years, Allen’s congregation was comfortable. The new air conditioning unit – 4 tons of power – was humming. l