Church community rallies around family without drinking water

Jeff Waroff of Milbrook Township shows off a 55-gallon drum he uses to provide his family with water. A local church is raising money to help buy Waroff and his family a new well. (Pioneer photo/Tim Rath)

MILLBROOK TWP. — Jeff Waroff and his family have had an incredible run of bad luck recently.

Jeff Waroff, a former tree climber for an arborist, lost two toes due to illness and cannot work. His wife Lorrie suffered a fall and broke both her back and her pelvis.

With medical bills already piling up, the couple’s problems were made far worse two months ago when the well at their home on 4th Street stopping working.

“I noticed the pump was running all the time. The electric bill was going up like crazy, so I thought, ‘That’s enough of that.’ I turned it off and I could hear the water running back down the well, so something went awry there,” Waroff said. “I called several well companies and they said, there’s probably a hole in the casing. The well is no good.”

It’s unclear how old the well is — Waroff said he has lived in the house 13 years and it hasn’t been replaced. The house itself dates back to the 1880s.

Waroff reached out to his neighbors for help. He’s acquired a 55-gallon barrel, which he keeps outside and fills with water provided by those who live close to him. The barrel is hooked up to a pipe that goes into the house, and provides warm enough water for bathing and cleaning.

However, he said, that’s a short-term fix — in the winter, he expects the water in the barrel to freeze.

“I have a little pump for my system, but it’s only 55 gallons, and I’m worried about winter,” Waroff said. “I’ve tried and tried to fix it, but it’s no use. Everyone tells me, it’s just so old, what really has to happen is, you need to put a new well in.”

But hopefully there will be a solution before then. One of Waroff’s neighbors, Don Santer, has organized a fundraiser drive through his church, New Hope United Methodist, in Morton Township, to buy the family a completely new well. The church hopes to raise $4,000 for the cause.

“These are wonderful people. I’m not a member of the church, but they’ve been a huge help,” Waroff said. “Money is tight with a lot of people. I’m not expecting one person to pay for it all, but every little bit helps.”

Those who wish to help are asked to mail checks to: New Hope Church, 7296 9 Mile Road, Mecosta, MI 49332. For more information, call (231) 972-2838.

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