Katelyn Boyer and Robert Newpher, vice president of Comfort Pro, with the installers of a new heating system in Boyer's West Hamburg home. -

Hamburg woman and daughter receive the gift of heat

If her dangerously shaky heating system died completely this winter, space heaters were going to be the next step to try to warm the home of Hamburg resident Katelyn Boyer and her 10-year-old daughter, Ava.

The little family lives in a duplex in Hamburg and was recently struggling with several home improvement issues. Along with a new furnace, the house also needs a new roof.

"It's like everything is going out at once," Boyer said.

Since the weather turned colder, Boyer had been using her basically broken oil-heated furnace a little at a time, keeping the temperature low and hoping both the furnace and her supply of oil would last as long as possible.

"It really wasn't safe to be running," Boyer said of the furnace. "I kept an eye on it and we kept the temperature at 65 when it was running. The furnace itself has broken pieces in it."

But this is the Christmas season, and a miracle was on the way in the form of a big-hearted heating, ventilation and air-conditioning company.

This is the ninth year that the heating and air conditioning business Comfort Pro Inc. of Maidencreek Township has given away a free Lennox heating system to a deserving Berks County family in need through the Ninth Annual Comfort Pro Cares Event.

This Christmas, Boyer was chosen to receive the new heating system.

"I was so excited and my daughter was so happy; when I told her about it, she was definitely excited," Boyer said.

Bleak, cold winter

A former member of the Army Reserves from 2007 to 2013, Boyer and her daughter were facing a bleak and cold winter.

"If the furnace broke down completely, I'm not sure what I would have done," Boyer said. "I was hoping it would hold out until I got my tax return.

"The only thing I could do would be to use space heaters if the furnace totally quit," Boyer said. "I knew it wasn't safe, but I was actually using it for the time being because I didn't have any other options."

Each year, Comfort Pro asks for nominations from the community for folks who need a little warmth in their homes, then a panel reviews the nomination letters and a Comfort Pro team conducts site evaluations to determine who will get a free heating system.

This year, the Boyer family was selected as the 2019 Comfort Pro Cares recipient after being nominated by Boyer's mother, Manette Boyer.

Just in time for Christmas, on Dec. 17, a Comfort Pro team removed the old boiler and installed a new, free Lennox 130,000 BTU oil-fired boiler, estimated to be worth $10,700.

"This is so much better, it's wonderful," Boyer said.

After finding that Boyer's rusting oil tank had pin holes in it, that was also replaced.

APR Supply significantly helped the project by donating a new oil tank, worth about $1,900.

Boyer first found out about her nomination when her mother had to tell her "someone from Comfort Pro is going to be visiting you," and explained why.

"I really didn't think I was going to win," Boyer said. "I was really excited, but I feel there are more deserving people than me."

Manette took on the role of guardian angel when she nominated Katelyn to receive the new heating system, explaining that Boyer is a hard-working single mom who lives paycheck to paycheck and has worked hard to save money to buy a home for herself and her daughter.

While in the Army Reserves, Boyer trained to be a dental assistant and is currently employed by "The Smile Program," a mobile dental unit that visits schools to make sure low-income kids get to see a dentist.

Wasn't enough

While Boyer has a regular paycheck, it simply wasn't enough to replace her home's heating system.

In her nomination letter, Manette Boyer said her daughter was also trying to cope with the death of a close friend who had suffered from cancer.

The limping-along furnace just made everything worse, Manette said.

Boyer's father has been patching the roof until she can get it repaired, but there wasn't much he could do with the old furnace.

The Comfort Pro Cares Event was started by owners Doug and Craig Weisman.

Doug Weisman, CEO of Comfort Pro Inc., said the team received six nominations for a new furnace this year.

It was very moving to read all the letters, especially Katelyn's story, Weisman said in a press release, and it gave all the people at Comfort Pro a good feeling to know they could make a difference in her life, especially during the holiday season.

"They started this event because they wanted to give back to the community, to give somebody in need heat for the holiday, someone who couldn't afford to get a new heating system," said Robert Newpher, vice-president and Comfort Pro sales manager.

"Craig and I went out to visit the top three people who were nominated, and hers was the most in need," Newpher said.

Newpher was surprised at the deteriorating condition of Boyer's furnace.

"It was unsafe to run," Newpher said. "Her home had an old 1900s boiler that was dangerous to operate. The baffles were falling out of the boiler. Very simply, it was broken. It shouldn't have been used, but she was using it temporarily to get some heat in the house."

This awesome gift didn't just make the holiday happier for Katelyn Boyer and her daughter. A large, generous gift such as this has a ripple effect.

"I love being able to do this, to help people who can't afford it," Newpher said. "It's a great feeling, especially at this time of year.

"You don't always know their circumstances, but by simply doing something like this, it can change somebody's life and it can bring families together," Newpher said. "If I was in their shoes, I would hope somebody would help me, too.

"I look forward to this time of year, every year, and we're kind of hoping other companies will feel in the Christmas spirit and donate to someone, too," Newpher said.

Contact Marylouise Sholly: specialsections@readingeagle.com.