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Local builders pull together to help West Duluth veteran

Louise Berg (left) and her husband, Lyle, stand in front of their home in West Duluth before 40 volunteers organized by the Arrowhead Builders Association arrived to re-side and reroof their home. (Submitted photo)1 / 3
The Arrowhead Builders Association completed most of the Berg home renovation on a summer Saturday with the help of 40 volunteer contractors and materials contributors. (Submitted photo)2 / 3
Lyle and Louise Berg learned that their new insurance company would end coverage if the Bergs did not repaint and reroof their home. The Arrowhead Builders Association raised enough money to side the home instead. Here, volunteer contractors prepare to put siding on the home. (Submitted photo)3 / 3

As an active member of the Duluth Honor Guard, Lyle Berg says he believes in paying it forward. But, when thinking about his home insurance payment earlier this year, Berg decided he was paying it forward too much.

After securing a lower rate, he received a letter from his new insurer stating that his insurance would not be renewed if he didn't repaint and reroof his West Duluth bungalow.

"I went down to the Honor Guard and told a friend of mine there that I was going to take a couple or three months off so that I could do the work," said Berg, who has been married to his wife, Louise, for 47 years. "I didn't get the whole statement out and he said, 'Don't worry about it, I'll take care of it.'"

Members of the Duluth Honor Guard made some phone calls to the Arrowhead Builders Association. After discussions, the association organized a group of volunteers within a few hours.

"Some folks from the Honor Guard came to me and said Lyle's home was about to lose its insurance because he changed companies and they did an inspection," said Tim Jezierski, a member of the Arrowhead Builders Association who dedicates time to outreach activities for the organization. "The association leaped at it and we went out and inspected the home. Then we put out the call for people and materials."

Along with siding and roofing the home, the group did some window work and rebuilt Berg's front and back porches. Later, they painted and roofed the garage.

"It was a facelift for the home," said Terry Hammack, a contractor who is also a veteran. "I'm glad we could help. Being that this community supports us, we like to give back and help out."

Jim Wallner, president of the Arrowhead Builders Association, came to the site the night before construction started to set up scaffolding with his son.

"This was one of those things that, when I heard about it, I really got on board and really kind of drove it and really wanted to do it," Wallner said. "I think it's really necessary to help people out when we can. Lyle was in a tough situation."

The Arrowhead Builders Association undertakes an outreach program each year. For Berg's home project, 40 association members and other interested parties volunteered time or made donations.

"It was really great to see someone like Lyle get something done that he needed done," said Chris Ostrom, membership director of the Arrowhead Builders Association, who also spent time at the work site. "To see the smile on his and his wife's face and to see how grateful and amazed they were that all of this happened was really something special."

Lyle and Louise Berg's financial resources are limited, and Berg suffers from some health problems.

"It looked really nice when they finished," said Louise Berg. "They were all really friendly. It felt nice not to have to worry about it anymore."

"It was fantastic," said Berg, who was gone on the Saturday when the contractors came to his home to work. "I came home and looked around and -- the house was done."