EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 13, 2013

Salem donations mean a warmer winter for some

By Doug Ireland

---- — SALEM — Residents of Friendship Drive mobile home park were worried when they were told oil could no longer be delivered to some homes in the park.

Updated federal regulations require concrete pads to be installed beneath the oil tanks outside their homes, but seven homes in the park didn’t have them. Until the pads were installed, no oil could be delivered.

The pads prevent spilled oil from leaking into the groundwater.

Thanks to a little outside assistance, those residents are now breathing a collective sigh of relief.

Pentucket Bank, the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund and Isaiah 58 Ministries teamed up to make life easier for residents of the 42-home park, located off Route 28.

Yesterday, Pentucket donated $10,000 through the Community Loan Fund to pay for the necessary work. Isaiah 58 Ministries, led by the Rev. David Yasenka of Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church, has pitched in to help as well.

The work will begin next week, Yasenka said.

“This is huge,” said resident and Friendship Drive Co-op board member Bonnie Kelledy.

The cooperative operates and maintains the mobile home park, renting 17 of the homes to generate the money needed for its upkeep. The other homes are privately owned.

“This gives us room to do other things we need to do, such as the roads,” Kelledy said. “It’s like getting a vacation.”

Fellow board member Pam Rothgaber agreed.

“The roads haven’t been worked on for years,” she said. “To get help like this is more than we could have asked for.”

But the most important thing is that the homes will have heat this winter, she said.

“People would have definitely been cold this winter,” Rothgarber said.

Kelledy, Rothgaber and board member Karen Brum said it’s been tough finding tenants for some of the vacant homes in the aging park, which is approximately 60 years old.

The homes need expensive upgrades, including concrete pads that cost about $1,600 each to install. When there is no rental income coming in, the park suffers.

“There are a lot of things that need work,” Rothgaber said.

The board members are trying to change that, working countless hours and weekends to make improvements at the park while juggling family and job responsibilities. They have received free training on how to run the park from the Community Loan Fund.

“The Community Loan Fund teaches you how to work as a community,” Rothgaber said.

Yaskena and Community Loan Fund representative Tara Reardon visited the park yesterday, along with Pentucket Bank officials John DeBaun and Leanne Eastman.

DeBaun said the bank decided it needed to assist the residents after he met with Yasenka this spring.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity for us to help fulfill a need,” DeBaun said. “Some of these homes would have no oil delivery if it wasn’t resolved.”

Yasenka and Isaiah 58 Ministries have been dedicated to helping people in need, especially those seeking affordable housing. With help from the Salem Exchange Club, they are working to bring a donated mobile home to the park, Yasenka said.

The rental home would provide housing for a family in need while also helping to generate income to maintain the park.

The residents are also receiving help from Concrete Work of Hampstead, which is installing the pads at a discounted rate, Yasenka said.