USDA program allows 84-year-old to remain in her long-time Lancaster homeBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent July 05. 2017 8:41PM
LANCASTER — Thanks to a USDA Rural Development program and dozens of volunteers, Corinne Comeau now has a home that is both safer and more sound, and will soon be filled with the aroma of spaghetti sauce.
Comeau, who is 84 and has lived in her Portland Street residence since 1969, was the recipient of a $7,500 grant from the USDA Rural Development’s Housing Repair Program, which covered the cost of a new furnace.
But when officials from the agency, including Janice Daniels, visited Comeau’s home earlier this year to determine the scope of work, they found that the ranch-style dwelling needed lots more than just a furnace. Daniels recalled that, in addition to the extensive to-do list that emerged, she was also struck by the delightful smell of home-made spaghetti sauce that permeated the place.
To ensure that Comeau, who raised a large family and was used to cooking in big batches, could continue making the sauce at home, the volunteers built a raised vegetable garden for her which was then filled with tomato plants, basil and other essential ingredients.
Cumulatively, the cost of repairs and improvements exceeded $18,000 and included new insulation, pumping of the septic tank, a new door and fence, a fresh coat of paint and the aforementioned garden.
During the June 16 “day of action,” volunteers also reinforced a garage wall, replaced rotten siding, trimmed trees and built Comeau a new birdhouse.
On June 30, with most of the tasks complete, Comeau sat down with Daniels for an interview during which she expressed her gratitude and amazement.
“I’m thrilled,” said Comeau, adding she could not afford any of the work that was done for her.
A native of Wilmington, Mass., Comeau fell in love with Lancaster when she and her family stopped there during a camping trip.
“I’m home,” Comeau recalled saying of her first experience in Lancaster, and eventually she moved there. Comeau is a parishioner of All Saints Roman Catholic Church where she is a long-time member of the choir. When not singing or cooking, Comeau paints in oils and is partial to a particular season and place.
“I love winter scenes in the North Country; I love the sun on the snow,” she said.
According to USDA Rural Development, more than 100 New Hampshire families received a home repair loan or grant in 2016.
Work at Comeau’s home was done by USDA, Tri-County CAP and housing partners as part of the recognition of June as “Homeownership Month.”