Group carries on Chuck Hermann's memory by helping others
Reyna Deanda, a single mother of four, will soon move into a newly renovated mobile home. But she and her children aren't the only ones embarking on a new beginning.
This is the first major project coordinated by Pam Hermann, of GreatDeeds , since her husband Chuck Hermann, a Rochester Fire Department battalion chief and member of the board of directors of GreatDeeds, died in a logging accident in August.
"It takes the focus off of you and your pain," Hermann said about helping others, especially Deanda. "I need that right now. I have a lot of pain, but it's a great feeling to put a smile on someone's face."
And smile is what Deanda does each time she looks across the street and sees the mobile home taking shape.
"I am so blessed that they are helping me," Deanda said. "I ask my friends to pinch me. I keep thinking it's a dream."
Deanda's case was referred to GreatDeeds, a Rochester-based Christian nonprofit organization, by Olmsted County Social Services after her social worker noticed rain pouring through the windows of Deanda's current mobile home.
That was only one of a long list of problems at Deanda's home.
"I don't live but 10 miles from here, so I was so sad to walk through Reyna's trailer to see that people were living like that here, even though I know that people are," Hermann said.
After researching the request, the group determined that Deanda's mobile home wasn't worth fixing. Instead, they moved a mobile home from Pine Island to an available lot across the street from where Deanda and her children, a 9-year-old, a 6-year-old and 3-year-old twins, live.
And while Deanda said she would have been happy to move into that mobile home the way it was, the volunteers are overhauling it. Since the mobile home was moved into place on Nov. 1, dozens of volunteers have put in new front steps, windows, counter tops, cabinets, carpet, linoleum, skirting and shrubs. The home could be ready for the family as soon as Saturday, Hermann said.
The large-scale project is a fitting way to honor Chuck Hermann.
"We are showing God's love through action by putting our hands and feet to work," Hermann said. "That's something my husband was very passionate about."
Then there's "Chuck the Truck," an old fire tanker truck donated to GreatDeeds in Chuck Hermann's memory, which made its debut at this project.
Like Chuck Hermann, the big red truck is both practical, as it's been outfitted with tools, and a cause for smiles.
"It's like Chuck is still here," Hermann said. "He just goes to the projects in a different way."