Turners Falls disabled veteran wins new roof

  • U.S. Air Force veteran Lori-Lee Adams with her two dogs, Oreo and Owen McGee, on Tuesday at her home in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • U.S. Air Force veteran Lori-Lee Adams on Tuesday at her home in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • U.S. Air Force veteran Lori-Lee Adams on Tuesday at her home in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/12/2019 11:25:53 PM

TURNERS FALLS — When Lori-Lee Adams bought a two-bedroom ranch house “on the hill” in Turners Falls in 2003, she knew she would eventually have to repair or replace its roof.

“I knew I’d at least have to have it repaired, but most recently, some of it started to fall in on the garage, and I wondered how I could afford to replace it,” said Adams, a disabled veteran who grew up in Lake Pleasant.

That’s when she heard about the “Beacon of Hope” contest run by a California company that would award five military veterans who received honorable or general discharges a new roof. Beacon Roofing Supply Inc. put the word out to veterans across the country, who had to be nominated and tell their stories to win.

Then the veterans who had been nominated had to get people to vote for them.

“I was one of 10 finalists,” Adams said. “When the final votes were tallied — I don’t know how many I received — I was one of the five winners, and I am the only veteran in New England to win.”

The 1989 Turners Falls High School graduate said she believes she’ll have her new roof installed by spring.

Adams said she joined the military directly out of high school, serving in the U.S. Air Force for four years. She left the service and moved back to the area, but couldn’t find work, so she moved to South Carolina for 10 years.

“In 1996, I was in a major car accident,” she said. “I broke my back, it crushed my pelvis and I had a severe brain injury. I had significant spinal problems, and I often fell.”

Adams said the Veterans Administration provided her with all of the equipment and care she needed to get around, and once she healed, she headed to college, receiving a bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology and a master’s in communication disorders. Today, she is a licensed speech pathologist working in the Springfield Public Schools.

When she moved back to the area to help her mother and ill stepfather, she bought her house where she, her service Great Dane named Oreo and her Miniature Pinscher mix named Owen McGee live. Adams said that when her mother told her she had nominated her to be one of the contestants, she started seeking votes immediately.

“I would talk to anyone and everyone and ask them to vote for me,” she said. “They all seemed pretty happy to do so, and they thanked me for my service.”

Adams, who has history with the Disabled American Veterans of Greenfield and the local Civil Air Patrol, said the community really turned out for her.

“It wasn’t just people in Montague and Greenfield and even Franklin County, it was people in Springfield and all over the Pioneer Valley,” she said. “I’m a pretty big fan of the Connecticut Sun basketball team, so I go to a lot of their games, and I’d ask people there to vote for me. I got really brave and would talk to anyone, and they would say, ‘Yes, I’ll vote for you.’”

Adams said the people she met were so open and willing, and seemed to appreciate her service to the country.

“People would tell me they were going to get everyone at their work to vote for me,” she added. “It looks like a lot of them followed through.”

Adams also spent time at the Greenfield Farmers Market, the Great Falls Festival and other events campaigning.

“I really wanted to win,” she said with a laugh. “I went into CVS the day after Halloween and bought half-price candy to hand out to children at one of the local events that had been canceled on Halloween. I did that while I was asking their parents to vote for me.”

Several local businesses in Turners Falls and Greenfield, as well as the Montague Center Fire Department, helped her ask for votes.

“I got lots of help,” she said. “So, now that it’s over, I can relax and just wait for my new roof. I’m so excited. I’m not doing poorly financially, but I was going to need help with the roof.”

Adams said she knows it took thousands of people to help her get to this point, and for that, she is touched.

“I know it only took a few seconds of their time, but it means so much,” she said. “It’s really encouraging. I’m so humbled.”

She said all she can do is say “Thank you” to everyone who helped, and she hopes that’s enough.

“So many people stepped up,” she said. “It is going to make a huge difference in my life.”

Reach Anita Fritz at
413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.


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