Church volunteers repair Largo home damaged by Hurricane Irma

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 07, 2018, 6:16 AM EST

Student volunteers with the United Methodist Church Conference from Kentucky traveled to Largo for their spring break to repair a senior citizens’ home that was damaged nearly six months ago by Hurricane Irma.

  • Volunteers from Kentucky repair Largo home damaged by Irma
  • Students doing work for free during their spring break
  • Church worked w/ FEMA to ID Fla. homeowners in need of assistance

“They came to the rescue and offered their services,” said the homeowner’s step-daughter, Lynette Keifer, 49. “All you have to do is just give a voluntary donation to the church.”

Keifer said Irma tore half the roof off of the home which caused water to seep into the ceiling and drywall.

“The walls all got damaged and collapsed,” she said. “There was mold.”

FEMA wrote the family a check that Keifer said they used to fix the roof, but there wasn’t enough money left over to replace the drywall inside the home. Keifer’s step-mother, Sonia Marticorena, 65, had been living with the damage ever since.

That was until the United Methodist Church Conference stepped in to help.

“We’re doing this for free. This is our spring break. We’re here to volunteer,” said Pastor Renee Jennings. “We’re here to serve and this is absolutely just because we want to be here.”

Jennings is also the director of Vine & Branches Campus Ministry at Northern Kentucky University.

“Every year for our spring break my students, and I take a mission or service trip of some kind,” she said. “It feels pretty fantastic for us just to be able to get in here and just do some work.”

The Pastor said the United Methodist Committee On Relief worked with FEMA to identify Florida homeowners in need of assistance. A licensed contractor is supervising the work they do on the home.

“I know recovering from something like this is a huge hardship,” Jennings said. “It’s just great to be able to come and give this family some piece of mind.”

Student volunteer, Deron Bartelson, 21, said there’s no place else he’d rather spend his spring break.

“They’re happy their house is fixed,” he said. “We’re just glad that we can help out in any way possible.”

Keifer said she used the leftover FEMA money to purchase materials and will donate the rest to the church.

“They’re here and they’re doing a great job,” she said. “I feel blessed and thankful for them and their good work.”