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Habitat for Humanity & family build ramp for veteran’s widow

Courtesy Photo Homeowner Lorraine Micketti gives Habitat for Humanity Project Manager Bill Morrison an appreciative hug for building her a wheelchair ramp.

ROGERS CITY — Lorraine Micketti could not express her gratitude without tears of joy as a wheelchair ramp was being built onto the front of her Rogers City home.

Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan and Micketti’s family teamed up to build the ramp with materials donated from Home Depot. The project did not cost Micketti a dime, thanks to both Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan’s Critical Home Repair program.

Micketti, 91, is the widow of veteran Anthony Micketti, who served in the Army Air Force, she said.

When she heard that this ramp was going to be built at no cost to her, she said through tears, “I thanked my husband (whom she lost 10 years ago) for watching over me, and helping me get this set up, because of him being a veteran.”

She is elated with the ramp and all the help from Habitat workers and her family members. She has been homebound and struggling to be able to leave the house since January. She had surgery for cancer, but said she is cancer free now.

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Habitat’s Jenny Nestell, Kristen LeSage and Lorraine’s daughter-in-law Cindy Micketti take a break from working for a photo.

“It will make going outside much easier,” she said of the ramp. “It’s just awesome, what they’re doing. I can go on my front porch, go outside through my front door.”

She used to have to slowly struggle down the side door steps with the help of a family member, friend or neighbor.

“My daughter-in-law — there’s somebody here every night with me,” Micketti said of her son’s wife Cindy Micketti.

She added that her daughter Nancy was a great help making chili for all the workers.

“I can’t complain,” Micketti added. “I have a wonderful family … that’s a wonderful crew out there. They’re a happy group; they’re good workers.”

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Jesse LeSage, Bill Morrison and Garry Hurst work on the ramp while Ken Micketti digs a hole in the background.

Cindy Micketti said her mother-in-law can reclaim some of her independence now and get out of the house easier.

“She has so many neighbors that love to sit and say ‘Hello,'” Cindy Micketti said. “She gets out on the sun porch now but this is going to be so great.”

It adds a layer of safety as well for Lorraine Micketti, said Cindy Micketti.

“She’s been through quite a journey,” she added of her beloved mother-in-law. “She’s quite a lady. She’s raised an amazing family.”

“She’s gone through some pretty rough times right here, with her operation she had back in March, she had some cancer that was removed,” said her son Ken Micketti, who helped build the ramp. “And then the rehab, where she was at, wasn’t really working out as well as we thought it would … Now that she’s home, she’s coming along. A home makes a big difference for elderly people to recover. It really does. But she is going to be wheelchair bound from this point on.”

Kristen LeSage, Jenny Nestell and Ken Micketti may look like they’re searching for gophers, but they are clearing post holes.

Kristen LeSage explained that this was a Home Depot funded veteran’s project. LeSage heads up Habitat’s Critical Home Repair program, which has had more requests than ever this year.

“We do more than just build homes,” said Ted Fines, Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan executive director. “We did more than $200,000 last year just in repairs. The demand has just been incredible.”

Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan will soon cover six counties, Fines said, including Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda and Presque Isle.

“It’s really a blessing that Habitat for Humanity was able to come put this wheelchair ramp in,” Ken Micketti added.

Project Manager Bill Morrison noted that the pandemic has delayed a lot of repairs that need to be done, so he has been very busy trying to scramble before it gets too cold.

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Veteran widow Lorraine Micketti of Rogers City was overjoyed to have a wheelchair ramp installed at her home at no cost to her.

“I enjoy doing the things that I do,” Morrison said. “It’s just that, with COVID and all that, it’s just delayed things so much that it’s hard to try and catch up.”

All these projects have to be done by Nov. 15.

“So I’m on the crunch,” Morrison said.

Kristen LeSage handles all the applications for Critical Home Repairs through Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan.

“Home Depot will partner with us on veteran projects, for materials,” LeSage explained. “So, generally, we do wheelchair ramps, that’s mostly what Home Depot does … They donate all of the supplies for us.”

Courtesy Photo The crew poses with homeowner Lorraine Micketti (top center in pink) after completing her new wheelchair ramp. Pictured, top row from left, are Garry Hurst, Lorraine Micketti, and Ken Micketti. Standing in front are Jenny Nestell and project manager Bill Morrison. Kneeling are Kristen LeSage and Cindy Micketti.

She added Home Depot normally provides volunteers also, but they could not this year because of COVID-19. So a combination of family members, including Ken Micketti, Cindy Micketti and Garry Hurst, and Habitat representatives Kristen LeSage and her husband Jesse LeSage, Morrison and Jenny Nestell.

“I’ve got 40 people that called us that needed help this year,” LeSage said about the Critical Home Repair program. “Out of those 40, 20 of them I was able to get them a grant, which the grant goes up to $7,500. Anything up to $7,500 is at zero cost to the homeowner. Anything above that … Habitat funds that and then seeks reimbursement.”

Habitat for Humanity has the home inspected, and if the homeowner applied for new windows, but they find out the furnace needs to be replaced, that will be replaced first because it’s a priority, LeSage explained.

“It’s hard this year because we haven’t been able to do any fundraisers,” LeSage said, because of the pandemic. “Last year I did, I think, 20 projects. This year, with 40, and then COVID, contractors are — I mean, windows are six weeks out — and I have a deadline. All of these projects have to be done by November 15. That’s when the grant program ends.”

She added that it starts back up in January. She is hoping to be able to complete as many projects as possible yet this year, and even more in 2021.

For more information about the Critical Home Repair program, contact LeSage at 989-354-5555. Visit Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan’s website at habitatnemi.org.

Here is a photo of the completed wheelchair ramp at Lorraine Micketti's home in Rogers City.

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