A wonderful turn of events

Published 8:36 pm Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One story that appeared on the front page of Wednesday’s edition of the Suffolk News-Herald very easily could have been in that position for an entirely different and more tragic reason.

The story of Jacqueline Rogers, her young children and her mother was very nearly a heart-wrenching one about a young Navy seaman whose family slipped quietly to their deaths as he was at sea. Instead, it became of story of a nearly miraculous survival and one local company’s desire to do a good deed, despite the cost involved in doing it.

With her husband away on sea trials, Jacqueline Rogers was left to deal with the situation herself when her gas-fired heater broke down on Jan. 30. A technician sent by a home warranty company fixed a safety switch without investigating the problem.

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Soon the family started experiencing headaches and other physical problems, and a few days later the home’s carbon monoxide alarms sounded. Rogers vented the home but didn’t think the gas would cause a continuing threat. That night, the family went to sleep without the detectors on, and the next morning Rogers awoke and pressed the reset button. The alarms immediately sounded, and the family evacuated the house.

After checking the home out, a firefighter told Rogers she was lucky to be alive. Doctors who treated the family told her they were all in the final stages of carbon monoxide poisoning. That she had awakened in time to save her family was something of a miracle.

Surviving such a close brush with tragedy probably would have been excitement enough for most people. But the story became even more incredible on Monday, when employees of Michael and Son Services showed up at the Rogers’ home with a new electric heat pump and installed it, all at no charge to the family.

It was an act of generosity that owner Basim Mansour felt compelled to carry out after hearing the woman’s story from an employee who had been sent to work up a price for replacing her system. Taking inspiration from the movie “Pay it Forward,” Mansour decided to pass along some of his blessings.

At a time when stories of corporate greed consume so much space in newspapers and so much airtime on television, it’s a wonderful change to hear about a company that gives without expectation of getting something in return, especially when the recipient has a story as compelling as the Rogers’. There are hardly words available sufficient to offer the praise Mansour and his company deserve.