Eric and Brenda Boronski have heard the promises and good intentions before, so understandably they were skeptical when someone they befriended on Facebook offered to make right their Oakland Beach home that caught fire on a hot August night in 2018 and has been uninhabitable ever since.
This weekend surely restored Eric’s faith in humanity.
“These guys are unreal. They’re generations of contractors in their family. They love our country. They’re unbelievable people. They’re angels,” he said Monday.
In two days, a crew of 11 skilled workers on Saturday and 12 on Sunday, all volunteers, gutted the small home of Huron Street as well as removed the badly burned roof. They didn’t stop there. By Sunday afternoon they had filled a dumpster with debris and erected an all-new roof. All of it was accomplished with donated materials and labor.
The man behind the blitz to get Eric, Brenda and their handicapped daughter Rebecca back in their home by mid-April is reluctant to give his name and avoids cameras. He gave his first name, Chris. He and his brothers are contractors. They build expensive homes for people who have the money.
“This is not about us. This is about Eric and his family and doing the right thing for them. This is just the right thing to do,” Chris said.
He has lined up a corps of followers. Arnold Lumber came through with plywood and studs, and Trussco Inc. of North Kingstown donated the roof trusses. Chris said plumbers, electricians, roofers and tile workers have said they would help, however, until that happens he doesn’t want to mention any names or make commitments.
That’s a switch from the way things have played out thus far for the Boronskis.
In August 2018, before the fire, Eric was drawn to Peace and Providence when it opened on Warwick Avenue near the intersection with Church Avenue. The mission of helping others resonated with him. He put his faith in Justin Perreault, who ran the organization that has since closed under a cloud of claims over unpaid bills and misappropriation of funds.
After the fire and as the Boronskis were waiting for an insurance settlement, Eric Boronski said Perreault told him he was a contractor and he could oversee the work needed to be done to the house. Perreault was paid $40,000 in insurance funds plus another $13,000 the Boronskis came up with on their own. Perreault subcontracted some work but little was done, and while the subcontractor returned much of what he had been paid, it wasn’t nearly enough to do the job. Meanwhile, the insurance company ceased paying to have the Boronskis housed and what little money Eric was making and the family was getting in Social Security went into rent and paying the mortgage so they wouldn’t lose the Oakland Beach house.
The family’s plight made the news, and soon a realtor, building supply outlets and contractors were stepping forward to help. It looked like the Boronskis would have their home again. There were hurdles to overcome. The Boronskis needed plans and permits. It wasn’t as simple as it seemed. Offers went by the wayside. The house stood untouched, a blue tarp nailed over the holes the fire had burned in the roof.
As the sewer connection to the house that was part of the rebuild had not been properly done, the city cracked down on the contractor and the drive to the house was properly graded. The city also removed a stump in front of the house on Huron Street.
On Sunday, Chris and his brother took a reporter into the house. There’s not a lot to see. It’s basically a single large room beneath a new roof.
“This is where Eric’s and Brenda’s room will be,” he says, pointing to an area next to the front wall to be moved six feet out, allowing space for the bedroom and an additional inside room to give Rebecca her own room. He maps out the rest of the house – kitchen, bathroom and living room. It’s cozy.
There are to be hardwood floors, a tile bathroom and new windows. Chris says the house will be completely insulated that should help with heating and cooling bills. Out the back door there’s to be an open deck.
“This is going to be the best it has ever been,” Chris said of the house.
Chris said the neighborhood has been remarkably welcoming and receptive.
Rallying to help, as they have in the past, are Joe and Marie Cavanaugh. They are among the group planning a fundraiser April 4 at Evolution Sports in West Warwick from 3 to 7 p.m. Fireworks Catering is providing food and there is to be a huge raffle.
Chris explains some of the funds raised may be needed for the house with the rest going to the family. It could be used to help pay down the mortgage, he suggests.
A return to their home could not come soon enough for Eric. He said that the landlord of the home they are now renting is trying to throw them out even though they are paying the monthly $1,100 rent. On top of that, he said they are paying an attorney in hopes of recovering money paid to Perreault. They have also been paying for some materials for the rebuilding, including the dumpster.
“We’re struggling on everything,” Eric said.
But now, after so many promises of assistance from so many without anything happening, he believes the family will finally come home.