At IERNA’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we have a long history of community support and involvement. Since our start in June of 2003, owner/operator Charlene Ierna has made certain to always participate in and support as many local charity drives, K-12 school events, youth sports programs and non-profit fundraising events as possible.
In December of 2017, IERNA’s created the “Neighbor In Need Give-Away”. The contest asked for the community to nominate a person or family who has always selflessly helped others but may be in need of help themselves.
When Charlene mentioned the idea to Jeff Hoffman, President of Florida Carrier Enterprises, (CE is the Tampa Bay area’s distributor of Carrier® and Bryant® Heating & Cooling systems. Notably, IERNA’s is a Bryant® Factory Authorized Dealer), Hoffman wanted to be a part and would assist with the donation of a Bryant® Air Conditioning system. The selected recipient would receive a brand new Bryant® Coastal Air Conditioner including the removal of the old equipment, installation of the new equipment and any permitting fees associated with the install, at no cost to the recipient.
After a panel of six judges reviewed the nearly 50 nominations that included a short backstory on each of the nominees, one family was selected. The selection process was an emotional one: “It was truly a very difficult decision to make. Many of the stories of these selfless people moved judges to tears. We wish we could have given everyone a new Bryant® Heating & Cooling system.”, stated Rob Kress, our Director of Marketing & Public Relations.
ABOUT THE WINNERS
On January 17th, we contacted Jason & Cristine Rhodes of Springhill, FL to let them know they had been nominated for the Neighbor In Need Giveaway contest. Jason was overwhelmed and nearly in tears as he was delivered the news. The family of five had to endure extreme summer temperatures and sometimes-frigid temperatures during winter since their central heating and cooling system had stopped working three years ago.
Jason and Cristine Rhodes are parents of three children; Jase, Jacob, and Sage. Their second born, Jacob, became non-verbal at the age of 18-months and remained until around age 5. As professional music instructors, the Rhodes realized they were able to connect and communicate with Jacob through music and the arts. This realization and the success they saw with their own child moved them to create The Inspire Foundation, a non-profit music, and arts program to help other struggling families with children who are diagnosed with autism. These children are able to enroll in the program at no cost. They spent many years, devoting all of their time, money and efforts to develop a very successful music program which has helped countless families bring joy and education to children who seemed to be falling further back before becoming involved with the Rhodes family’s program. In between the autism music program, both Jason and Christine also teach private music lessons to aspiring musicians to help pay their personal bills. Because, the autism music and arts program is free to struggling families, the Rhodes are constantly raising funds to help ensure the program keeps going. Their passion to help these families has consumed the majority of their time and extra money. They have forgone their own personal needs to make sure they are able to continue to help others.
Jason Rhodes stated, “My wife and family and I are so honored and excited to have been chosen by Charlene, Rob, and the rest of the team at IERNA’s to receive a new air conditioner. This is a huge relief for us and we plan on paying this kind deed forward in many ways. Thank you so much, Team IERNA’s!
THE PRIZE GROWS
Our Service Manager, Rich Register, was sent to the Rhodes home to do an initial evaluation of the existing equipment to make sure the new equipment was sized properly and prepared a complete material list. This exciting moment for this deserving and grateful family, quickly turned into a nightmare scenario.
During the inspection, Rich noticed severe damage to the existing ductwork and the attic looked as if animals had been spending a lot of time in it. Although the A/C Giveaway initially included the air handler, condenser, and thermostat, once Charlene was informed of the terrible condition of the homes existing ductwork, she decided it was necessary to also include the donation of all materials and installation of a completely new duct system.
Since it was apparent that critters had been in the attic, we immediately reached out to our friend Chris Wirt, an animal removal expert and owner/operator of A-All Animal Control of Tampa Bay. Rob Kress explained the situation to Wirt and asked if he could help. Without hesitation, Wirt volunteered to go out to the Rhodes home and donate his time and services. After his evaluation, it was clear that rats and raccoons had found their way into the Rhodes home through a severely damaged roof and soffits. The situation was so severe that before the a/c system could be installed, the roof would need to be inspected and hopefully repaired by a professional roofing company.
Since the roof was a high priority and the Rhodes family didn’t know where to start, Rob immediately got on the phone reaching out to several roofing companies in the Tampa Bay area in hopes of finding a company who could possibly help the Rhodes family. When he contacted Arry’s Roofing Service of Tarpon Springs, he spoke to Vice President/Owner, Matt Housh. Arry’s is also a family owned/operated company who is very involved with their local community and also gives back as much as possible. Notably, Arry’s is also involved in an annual Free Roof Give-Away Program, which is held in the later part of the year. The roof at the Rhodes home was not reparable. A full roof replacement was the only option and was a huge task. Arry’s team worked for 3 days replacing a significant amount of plywood in addition to the roof shingles.
After the new roof was installed, Wirt of A-All Animal Removal returned to seal any other potential areas of intrusion to keep additional animals from entering the residence. He also set humane animal traps to remove any and all critters calling their attic home. Because the animals had been living in the attic for so long, the insulation in the attic was full of animal urine and feces, which is a significant health concern to the Rhodes family and would need to be completely removed and the attic space would then need to be professionally cleaned, disinfected and sanitized before IERNA’s team could the new a/c system and ductwork
Wirt reached out to business owner, Mario Maffeo of Gulfside Insulation whom Wirt has worked closely with over the years. After hearing the story, Mario quickly agreed to donate his services and the materials necessary to help the Rhodes family get their home back in order. Gulfside Insulation has special equipment that allows the safe extraction and disposal of the contaminated insulation in the attic space. Once extraction was complete, Wirt properly sanitized and disinfect the attic space making it safe for IERNA’s technicians to work in the space during the A/C replacement as well as for the Rhodes family’s well being.
Charlene Ierna stated, “We are so proud to be a part of such an amazing community of people and local businesses. We cannot thank A-Animal Control, Arry’s Roofing Services and Gulfside Insulation for their kindness, generosity, and willingness to be part of something that means so much to a family who lives to help others.”
It took a lot longer than expected, however, today the Rhodes family is enjoying the comfort of their new Bryant® Heating & Cooling system in a dry, critter-free home, just in time for another sweltering Florida summer.