Dozens of companies, unions come together to help veteran build addition after vet was scammed

Local News

Dozens of people are coming together to help a veteran in need, in Niagara Falls. 

Back in June, we told you about the Degenhardt family, who was scammed out of $12,000 they paid to build a new bedroom on the back of their house. The contractor showed up, dug trenches in the backyard, and never came back. So a company in Niagara Falls, H.W. Bryk and Sons, helped to fill in the holes. And since then, something eve more amazing has happened. 

“Channel 4 did a story on it, Rachele did the story, and friends saw it and people started reaching out to me (saying) ‘we’d like to help, we’d like to help,'” Kenny Tompkins said. 

Niagara Falls councilman, Kenny Tompkins, works for that company that helped fill in the holes. But he and many others wouldn’t leave without finishing the whole job. 

“Anyone that I called answered the call and said, ‘we’re happy to help, we want to help,’ and everyone who’s been on this job has said, ‘what else can I do?'”

The veteran who lives at the home suffered a blood clot in his leg during his time in the service. And after other medical problems and a surgery, he was unable to go up stairs, making a downstairs bedroom critical. 

So, Tompkins first called Cortese Construction Services to help. Cortese ordered a lot of the materials for the addition. 

“There’s a lot of contractors out there that give us a bad name,” Tyler Hook said, an estimator with Cortese Construction Services.

Hook says they’ve spent between 100 to 200 hours, for free, in order to get the room done. 

“This was a good chance to give back, especially for someone who has sacrificed so much,” Hook said. 

But that’s not all. More than 40 companies and unions have worked on the space. 

“What I’ve seen is what is really possible when we have a common heart, a common mind, and we put community first,” said Jomo Akono, council representative for the New England Regional Council of Contractors. 

“Everybody put their hat on and went to work, that’s what we did here,” Mark Grozio said, assistant business agent for IBEW 237, and also a Niagara County legislator. “We didn’t know who you were, what you were, but we just came in and got the job done.”

And although it’s tough to put in words how much this means, here’s what the homeowner is saying about all of this support… 

“It’s just overwhelming, it’s just unbelievable,” Timothy Degenhardt said. “I would’ve never ever imagined that so many people in Niagara Falls or this area would do something like this.”

The addition is expected to be done by November 20. The only thing not finished is the back porch. The wood is all there, but Tompkins is still looking for someone to build it. 

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