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Utica family experiencing hardships receives new, free roof

September 30, 2013

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From left, Matt Elie, of Ridgecon Construction, homeowners Rob and Judy Urbin with their dog, Lincoln, and Jay Eli, of Ridgecon Construction, take a break from the roof installation party for the Urbins Sept. 28.

UTICA — Rob and Judy Urbin have known each other since they were 7 years old, growing up across the street from each other in Detroit. They had a crush on each other by age 10 and were married when they were 25. Now, at age 59, their lives have been turned upside down multiple times.

The couple said their biggest hardship was when their middle daughter, Haley, passed away in 2003 at the age of 15 after being struck by a car.

“That was a very difficult thing. It remains that way to this day and changes your life and makes it challenging on a day-to-day basis, but you can’t let the sorrow of that loss overwhelm you,” Rob said. “Mostly, we celebrate her and choose to be grateful for her and stay in a positive mindset.”

Rob has been through some medical issues that left him unable to work his job at the U.S. Postal Service since August 2011. He said he wishes to return to work but has been in physical therapy for two years for ongoing problems, and it is unclear whether he will be able to return.

In January, Judy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and is also unable to work her longtime job as a nurse at the Henry Ford Medical Center while undergoing chemotherapy.

“I’m grateful that my wife has such a great attitude, because if she didn’t, I would be lost without her,” Rob said. “She really has a great way about her, and it makes a great difference around the house.”

With medical expenses, the couple would not be able to afford a new roof.

They won their roof from a nationwide program called No Roof Left Behind that provides contractors with resources to give a free roof to a deserving local homeowner. The Urbins were nominated by Judy’s childhood friend Kathleen McArthur, of Sterling Heights, and won an online contest with 800 votes. Ridgecon Construction in Shelby Township built the new roof Sept. 28.

“Our roof is 23 years old. It definitely has got some soft wood underneath the shingles and leaks, so it’s something we needed very soon,” Judy said, adding that her parents used to own the house in 1975; she and her husband bought it in 1989.

She said the roof has been a great way to stay positive.

“It means a great deal to us — not just the fact that we need a new roof, but it’s very encouraging how kind people can be — all the people who voted for us,” Judy said. “This blessing came through the community.”

McArthur, who met Judy in third grade and is also a nurse, said the couple generated a $1,000 scholarship — using donations received after their daughter’s death, as well as personal funds — for a graduating Utica High School senior in Haley’s name.

“They’re wonderful, caring, and they have given so much throughout the year with their concern and love and giving,” McArthur said. “Finally, they’re getting something back and, hopefully, this will be the start of a new beginning for them. Judy is finishing up her chemotherapy, and they have a lot to live for and look forward to.”

The couple is excited for a roof with a 50-year warranty and high-grade materials, which will increase the value of their home.

“We’ll always remember the day we got our roof,” Judy said. “For us, I’ll always be reminded if we want to see an answer to prayer, just look up and see the roof.”

About the author

Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik covers Shelby Township and Utica for the Shelby-Utica News. Sarah has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2013 and attended Oakland University. She won a first place 2013 Excellence in Journalism award for open government reporting and a second place 2014 Excellence in Journalism award for a series of explanatory stories from the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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