New roof donated to Milford veteran in need

Ferris Home Improvements is providing a new roof for U.S. Army veteran Angel Ortiz-Delgado of Milford, as part of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project. From left, Walter “Reds” Ferris (Ferris Home Improvements owner), Christine Mundy (Ferris Home Improvements operation manager), John Fiske (Ferris Home Improvements field supervisor), Mike Low (Ferris Home Improvements senior project manager), Matt Janes (Ferris Home Improvements sales manager), Dan Nolasco (Owens Corning area sales manager), Bill Weimer (Owens Corning regional sales manager) and Mr. Ortiz-Delgado. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

MILFORD — This week, a Milford veteran and his family are receiving a new roof on their old blue duplex for free.

The deserving household has a long military history.

Angel Ortiz-Delgado, a Puerto Rico-born U.S. Army veteran, met his wife, Jael, also a military member, while he was training for his position on the Army’s cable team.

“We set up communications between different soldiers in different places to make sure they were able to connect,” he said. “We ran (Category) 5 cables, fiber optic cables, dug trenches to run cables.”

Between 2009 and 2010, Mr. Ortiz-Delgado was stationed at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq. When he came back to the U.S., he and his wife wanted to buy a house in Delaware.

“I’ve lived in Milford since 2011,” he said. “We own the whole house.”

His North Washington Street building is divided into two apartments. Mr. Ortiz-Delgado’s sister-in-law lives in one and often helps care for his daughter, 7-year-old Jayliana, as his wife was deployed until recently.

The house is old and in need of repairs. Mr. Ortiz-Delgado was looking to get an estimate for fixing up his porches when the contractor told him he needed to completely redo his roof.

“I got an estimate, and they told me the price, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t afford this,’” he said. “I actually just got laid off due to the pandemic.”

His layoff from Emergency Response Protocol certainly didn’t help his situation.

“I already had leaks inside my house. I probably would have had to scrape to try to do something,” Mr. Ortiz-Delgado said. “A squirrel came into the house. My in-law was watching my daughter, and she had a broom fight with a squirrel because it came down from the ceiling.”

That’s when he got in touch with Operation Homefront.

“They’re basically designed to help veterans having a hard time with their finances,” Mr. Ortiz-Delgado said of the nonprofit. “I qualified for it through the application process that we went through.”

He said he’s “very happy” with the treatment he’s received.

“I’m very grateful for them,” he said. “They’ve been nothing but supportive. Through the whole application process, they were there to help me out.”

Operation Homefront reached out to two businesses, which both stepped up to help without hesitation, asking for nothing in return.

Owens Corning, a multinational roofing supply company, and Newark-based Ferris Home Improvements collaborated on the project.

“They supplied the materials, we supplied the labor,” said Ferris’ owner, Walter “Reds” Ferris. “We donated everything, and a veteran gets a leg-up.”

Bill Weimer, a regional sales manager at Owens Corning, said the donation was part of the company’s Roof Deployment Project.

“We started that at Owens Corning a few years ago, and it really helped give back to the veterans and to give our platinum contractors like Ferris an opportunity to support that, as well,” he said.

“We just respect what the military does for our country,” Mr. Weimer said. “It gives us the opportunity to have a successful business, and we want to give back.”

Mr. Ferris felt similarly.

“The reason we’re here and we’re able to do what we can do business-wise and with home improvements is because of veterans like this man here that protected our freedom and fought for his country,” he said.

“I can’t thank him enough,” Mr. Ferris said. “This is a way I can actually help financially with someone who may be sacrificing some part of his career to make sure people like me could grow up and do whatever I wanted to do.”

He said the work being done is worth around $30,000.

“We tore off the old shingles … all the way to the decking. In certain places, we’re putting new decking down where it was rotted or not in good condition,” said Mike Low, a Ferris employee coordinating the construction.

Ferris Home Improvements is providing a new roof for U.S. Army veteran Angel Ortiz-Delgado’s house at North Washington Street in Milford, as part of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project. (Special to the State News/Ariane Mueller)

He said the project requires “a three-man crew,” and that it’s “about a four-day job for us.”

Mr. Ortiz-Delgado said Ferris has done a great job so far.

“They’ve been checking up on me, making sure that they were there for me,” he said. “They called me on Day One telling me what to expect.”

Mr. Ferris was very excited to finally be able to participate in the program.

“We’ve been part of this program for a while, waiting for a candidate, and it’s taken a little while to find one because people aren’t putting in for it or maybe they don’t believe it would actually happen,” he said. “This shows that this actually can happen. Hopefully, other veterans will step forward.”

On several occasions, Mr. Ortiz-Delgado expressed how grateful he was to everyone involved in the project. But they weren’t just helping him. His whole family will benefit.

“I’m not concerned about myself. I’m more concerned about my family,” Mr. Ortiz-Delgado said. “If something happened to me, I could find a way to get out of it … but I’m not alone. I’m married, and I have a daughter, and I have to make sure that they have a steady home.”

Reach staff writer Noah Zucker at nzucker@newszap.com