CINCINNATI — If you own a home, the list of things to do and maintain seems to never end. But it's the costly repairs that can be troublesome.
“I came home one day, my son tried to raise the (garage) door and the whole bottom panel just came off," said Leslie Thomas. “So it was stuck. Half up, half down.”
It would be one thing if a broken garage door was Thomas's only challenge. But she already had a very long list.
Her husband and local minister, Pastor Will Thomas, has been in and out of the hospital for 10 years after a debilitating fall at home in 2009. He had surgery, numerous medical appointments and arthritis that has left him unable to walk. For the last two years, he has been in rehab, unable to return home until he can regain his strength. But it is during this time that many of his ministry friends have pitched in to help his wife with repairs and maintenance around the house.
"They have stepped in and they have been such a blessing," said Leslie. "Replacing my back door, redoing my front door, patching the ceiling and helping with yard work."
"We knew that Will was having some challenges and so we just really wanted to try to be a blessing," said Ron Mosby, an elder with the Ekklesia ministry in Northside.
Mosby and about a dozen men from several local ministries have been helping the Thomas family. "(We're) just brothers in the faith. We just came together. We tried to start doing some small things at first," he said.
But the broken garage door was not a do-it-yourself job.
"That's a huge burden. We knew that," said Mosby. "First of all, we knew that it was a dangerous situation."
He said they were concerned about the weight of the garage door and didn't want other portions of it to fall and hurt someone. They thought they could contact a garage repair service.
"Our funds were limited," said Scott Walts, a member of Hillside Bible Church. "We thought about if we could just get the bottom of it repaired, it would be something."
The church pastor recommended Precision Door Service of Cincinnati to get an estimate. Jake Huntress is the owner. At first, Huntress thought it was like any other estimate call.
"It was an original, old, old, old wood door that was kind of just falling apart," Huntress said. "The opener was severely outdated. It has been kind of overworked."
"We were kind of putting together estimates like we typically do, going over what they preferred and that kind of thing," Huntress continued. "And that's when the story kind of came up of the situation they (the Thomases) were in."
Huntress said he consulted with his business partner. In the past they have donated garage door services to those who needed it. This seemed like was one of those circumstances.
"I think for us, seeing the generosity of the congregations and the friends and family of the Thomases, and kind of having them come together and want to help out, that kind of motivated us to see if there was something we could do," said Huntress.
So, they decided to install a new garage door completely free of charge, including labor.
Thomas said she cried when she heard the news. "Oh my goodness. It brings me to my knees. It's the kindness of God shown through man," she said.
The ministry friends were just as surprised as the Thomases.
"It's a blessing," said Walts. "It's just amazing. We like to think that everything that's going on here is for the glory of God."
"To me, it represents community," said Mosby. "We just don't make it through life alone and so we really have to depend upon one another."
Huntress said the cost of the door and labor is at least a few thousand dollars. As a former firefighter, he said he tries to help service members, first responders or others in the community.
"You know I've been very fortunate and blessed in my life and we work hard here," said Huntress. "But, when we have an opportunity to kind of give back to somebody in a situation, we feel like that kind of pays it forward."
Huntress said the workers helping with the job volunteered their time as well. "So yeah, we kind of appreciate it as much as the family does," he said.
Meanwhile, with a call from his wife, Pastor Thomas was able to watch the work being done from the rehab facility on his cell phone.
"This means everything to me. Thank you so much," Thomas said.
"No, no. No problem," said Huntress.