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Reed’s Metals to mend roof for seamstress

JoAnn Freeman never wins anything.

That changed Thursday when the seamstress glanced up from her alterations at BeClean Cleaners and saw Bernie Reed leading a pack of three dozen factory workers from Reed’s Metals into the store on East Monticello Street.”

“I thought I would not win. I never win anything,” the 70-year-old said. “It hit me when I saw Mr. Reed.”

Several people nominated Freeman for Reed’s Metals fourth annual Covering the Community contest. As the winner, she’ll receive a new roof for her home.

“I love the way you mended people’s clothes around here for 40 years so we thought it would be nice to mend your roof,” Reed told her as her co-workers cheered. “You’ve got a lot of people that love you in this town.”

Reed said he and his team read more than 200 nomination letters. Several letter-writers pointed at Freeman as someone who needed Reed’s help.

“It’s about the story and her story touched my heart. She has to have hip surgery and lives by herself. We felt like it would be nice if we go and mend her roof and give back as much as she’s given to the community,” he said.

For many of the 40 years she’s lived in her house, the roof has sheltered Freeman from the rain. But now she uses buckets to collect rainwater during storms as it drips through the ceiling over her living room and the utility room. A third leak is starting in the dining room.

Without the funds or manpower to fix the leaks, the widow would only ask God for help.

She had back surgery in the summer and is waiting for her health to improve enough that she can have hip surgery. She’s been staying with her daughter while she recuperates so she won’t have to deal with the problems at her house.

One of Freeman’s co-workers knew the situation and when she learned about the contest, she was determined “Momma Jo” would win. She enlisted the help of others at BeClean and even her own parents, who also know Freeman.

“She has three leaks in her roof and she does not have the money to put a new roof on,” Elizabeth Grantham said. “She hates to ask for help. But she needs it. I love her. We all love her. Everybody loves her. I’m so happy in my heart. It’s all God.”

Freeman smiled and choked back tears as the reality of the situation sunk in. She rushed outside to hug Reed’s neck as he headed to his vehicle.

“I am just flabbergasted. I’m thankful,” she said after she got back to work at her sewing machine. “Even though I’m not living there right now it’s getting mildewed in there. And it’s going to be harder for me after I have surgery to put a roof on there, but now, thank God, that is done.”

Freeman will pick the roof color from 20 samples and then contractors and Reed’s Metals employees will descend upon her house Dec. 15.

“We’ll have over 100 people out there and it will take two or three hours and she’ll have a brand new roof on her house.  It will be beautiful,” Reed said.