Homeowner Joy Peterson was just looking for some help to replace the aging carpet in her Rosemount home.
When that help came last week, Peterson and her family were floored in more ways than one.
For four hours Friday morning, the gray split-level she shares with two sons, one serving in the National Guard, was the site of a whirlwind of home repairs as part of the national Craftsman “Make a Difference” Tour.
They got new shelving in the garage and kids’ rooms and a new front screen door. Repairs were also made to the house’s plumbing, fence, gates and the driveway. Finally, the crew of volunteers fixed the shed and trimmed a tree.
Mayor Bill Droste spoke at the event.
The home’s biggest update, replacing the carpet, will be done in the coming weeks.
“I really had no idea what I was getting into,” Peterson said. “It’s above and beyond what I could have even imagined.”
The effort, also sponsored by the Sears “Heroes at Home” program and Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit with a Twin Cities office, aims to repair and improve veterans’ and military families’ homes.
It all started last year, when Peterson sought help to pay for new flooring at the request of her 12 and 19-year-old sons, who were tired of the house’s ancient, dirty carpet, she said.
“I really needed help with getting the flooring,” she said. “I mean, how many kids do you know that would really say, ‘I wish we had new flooring or carpeting?’”
Willing to do the labor herself if necessary, Peterson, a single mom who works as a server, filled out a form on the website of Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that helps low-income homeowners with home repairs. The form has a box to check if a family member is in the military — and her son, Dominic Peterson, 19, serves in the Guard and lives with her.
When Peterson checked that box, her home became eligible for a “Make a Difference” visit, said Kathy Greiner, executive director of Rebuilding Together Twin Cities. Peterson was told that if she could wait for her carpet, she’d be eligible to receive help with other projects, too.
Greiner said Sears’ “Heroes at Home” program has been a Rebuilding Together sponsor for about five years, funding improvements to veteran’s homes. However, the Craftsman collaboration and the “Make a Difference” tour are new this year, she said.
Rebuilding Together manages fundraising and recruits volunteers in each of about 20 cities the tour visits. The tour began in April and ends in August.
“We don’t think anyone should be without a safe home,” Greiner said, “especially not someone who has served our country.”
A team of nine volunteers, many from a local construction company, and two Craftsman representatives showed up at Peterson’s home on Friday. A 36-foot “Make a Difference” truck filled with Craftsman tools accompanied them.
Dominic, the reason for the hoopla, arrived home Saturday from two weeks of training at Camp Ripley to an updated home. He said he’s excited about the improvements, especially the carpet, which is coming soon.
“I was actually going to invest my own money in it,” he said. “I was that eager to get new carpeting.”
He’s amazed at the kindness of the different groups involved. “At first when she told me, I didn’t believe that,” he said. “They’re just going to come out and fix up our house? That really hit me.”
Peterson said Dominic wanted to join the Guard even before he graduated from Rosemount High School. He enlisted last spring after graduation.
“He’s doing it for all the right reasons,” she said, including “to make something of himself and grow as a person.”
Dominic works for the Guard’s radio branch, setting up antennas that provide signals for cell phones and other communications, he said. He joined in part for help paying for college, he said.
Dominic will start at Dakota County Technical College next month, studying network administration. He also enlisted so he’d have time to “think about myself and what I want to do, and get some structure and life experience,” he said.
Peterson said she often does home repairs herself, but finances sometimes hold her back.
“Honestly, with this whole thing, I feel so extremely blessed,” she said. “Me and my family are going to pay it forward as much as we can, even just with our time.”