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Success Stories

Home repair leads to forgotten memories

Michael Frye
Home Repair
Homeownership 2024
Jolene stands outside her home.

As the days get longer and warmer, the sound of hammers against rooftops are a common sound echoing across neighborhoods as homeowners replace old shingles weathered by time, harsh South Dakota winters, and the strong spring winds that blow across the prairie.

But replacing a roof can be costly, especially for those living on limited income, and Jolene learned quickly she wouldn’t be able to afford the high price tag.

“When I was younger, I did a lot of traveling and not working, so my social security check is limited and I don’t have a lot of savings,” said Jolene. “It doesn’t take long each month for that money to be gone.”

Old roof with curling shingles
Jolene's roof was beyond repair. Shingles were curling from years of weathering.

Jolene heard about Rural Development’s Home Repair Program and reached out to Loan Assistant Cheryl Pesicka-Chapman to find out if she would qualify for the program.

“We reviewed her income and financial statements and determined she qualified for the program,” said Cheryl. “She was able to find James Roofing, a contractor from Renner, who could replace the weathered roof within the grant limit amount.”

James Roofing sent a crew to Jolene’s home to repair the roof and they found a surprise in her attic.

“I went outside and one of the workers was holding a soft covered book with a postcard inside it,” said Jolene. “The postcard, postmarked in 1947, was from my grandmother writing to my aunt. They could have just thrown the book away and I never would have known, but he took the time to bring it to me. It meant so much.”

Jolene’s aunt and uncle previously owned the home, and when her aunt died, the house was left to Jolene and her mother. The postcard is just one clue of the age of the home. Jolene doesn’t recall when it was built, but said, “I have a photo of my grandfather in the home where he briefly had a pool hall and small barber shop. My mom would have been pretty young.”

Jolene's garden full of flowers
Jolene's large yard is filled with plants, flowers, and paths. Jolene enjoyed sitting amongst the plants while the crew replaced her aging roof in Crooks, SD.

As the crew worked on her roof, Jolene sat in her yard, which is adorned with a wide variety of plants and flowers, and played music for the workers. She’s grateful for their hard work and kindness, and thankful Rural Development was able to help her get a new roof.

“I’d tell anyone in a similar situation to give it a try. Find out if you’re eligible. Cheryl and the rest of the staff were so great to work with, so helpful,” said Jolene.

Jolene received an $8,000 grant to replace her roof through Rural Development’s 504 Home Repair Program in June, 2023.

USDA Rural Development offers many programs to assist communities, small businesses, and homeowners across rural South Dakota. To learn more about our programs and begin the application process, visit RD.USDA.Gov/SD. Send questions to SFHDirectSD@usda.gov


Obligation Amount:
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Congressional District:
  • South Dakota: District (at Large)