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A Florida air-conditioning contractor’s idea of giving back to a deserving person resulted in a group of local businesses coming together to make a difference in the lives of one family.
IERNA’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, Lutz, Florida, has a long history of community support and involvement. Since its start in June of 2003, owner/operator Charlene Ierna, has made certain to always participate in and support as many local charity drives, K-12 school events, youth sports programs and non-profit fundraising events as possible.
In December of 2017, IERNA’s created the “Neighbor In Need Give-Away,” a contest that asked for the community to nominate a person or family whom have always selflessly helped others, but may be in need of help themselves.
When Charlene mentioned the idea to Jeff Hoffman, president of Florida Carrier Enterprises, a Tampa Bay distributor of Carrier and Bryant Heating & Cooling systems, Hoffman wanted to be a part and would assist with the donation of a Bryant system. The selected recipient would receive a brand new Bryant Coastal Air Conditioner including the removal of the old equipment, installation of the new equipment and any permitting fees associated with the install, at no cost to the recipient.
After a panel of six judges reviewed the nearly 50 nominations that included a 500 words or less back story on each of the nominees, one family was selected.
“It was truly a very difficult decision to make,” stated Rob Kress, IERNA’s director of marketing and public relations. “Many of the stories of these selfless people moved judges to tears.”
Jason & Cristine Rhodes of Springhill, Florida, were selected as the recipient of the brand-new air conditioning system. The family of five had to endure extreme summer temperatures and sometimes-frigid temperatures during winter since their central heating and cooling system had stopped working three years ago.
The prize grows
IERNA’s Service Manager Rich Register was sent to the Rhodes home to do an initial evaluation of the existing equipment to make sure the new equipment was sized properly and prepared a complete material list. This exciting moment for this deserving and grateful family, quickly turned into a nightmare scenario.
During the inspection, Register noticed severe damage to the existing ductwork and the attic looked as if animals had been spending a lot of time in it. Although the A/C Giveaway initially included the air handler, condenser and thermostat, once Charlene Ierna was informed of the terrible condition of the homes existing ductwork, Ierna decided it was necessary to also include the donation of all materials and installation of a complete new duct system.
Since it was apparent that critters had been in the attic, Kress of IERNA’s immediately reached out to his friend Chris Wirt, an animal removal expert and owner/operator of A-All Animal Control of Tampa Bay. Wirt volunteered to go out to the Rhodes home and donate his time and services. After his evaluation, it was clear that rats and raccoons had found their way into the Rhodes home through a severely damaged roof and soffits. The situation was so severe that before the a/c system could be installed, the roof would need to be inspected and hopefully repaired by a professional roofing company.
Since the roof was a high priority and the Rhodes family didn’t know where to start, Kress immediately got on the phone reaching out to several roofing companies in the Tampa Bay area in hopes of finding a company who could possibly help the Rhodes family.
When he contacted Arry’s Roofing Service of Tarpon Springs, he spoke to Vice President/Owner Matt Housh. Though neither man knew the other, both were familiar with each other’s businesses. Arry’s is also a family owned/operated company who is very involved with their local community and also gives back as much as possible. Notably Arry’s is also involved in an annual Free Roof Give-Away Program, which is held in the later part of the year.
Meanwhile, the roof at the Rhodes home was not reparable. A full roof replacement was the only option and a huge task. Arry’s team worked for three days replacing a significant amount of plywood in addition to the roof shingles.
After the new roof was installed, Wirt of A-All Animal Removal returned to seal any other potential areas of intrusion to keep additional animals from entering the residence.
Because the animals had been living in the attic for so long, the insulation in the attic proved a significant health concern to the Rhodes family and would need to be completely removed and the attic space would then need to be professionally cleaned, disinfected and sanitized before IERNA’s team could install the new a/c system and ductwork
Wirt reached out to business owner, Mario Maffeo of Gulfside Insulation whom Wirt has worked closely with over the years. After hearing the story, Maffeo, quickly agreed to donate his services and the materials necessary to help the Rhodes family get their home back in order.
“We are so proud to be a part of such an amazing community of people and local businesses,” said Ierna. “We cannot thank A-Animal Control, Arry’s Roofing Services and Gulfside Insulation for their kindness, generosity and willingness to be part of something that means so much to a family who lives to help others.”