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South Buffalo man helps save non-profit's building

Grace Guest House provided lodging for 1,000 families last year. They were able to open after the storm, with no issue, because of John Kelley.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A South Buffalo man is credited with helping to save a non-profits building during the blizzard

John Kelley is a volunteer at the Grace Guest House

Both during and after the blizzard, he went over to the house and did what he could to make sure nothing was wrong. 

The house was built in the early 1900s.

Founder Cynthia Battista and associate director Gianna Totaro were worried the pipes would burst. 

So Kelley went over and cleared out the snow that was up to his chest in front of the vents there. 

Once he did that, the heat kicked back on, and the power too. 

It saved the building from needing a ton of repairs that likely would've been needed from water damage. 

Grace Guest House provides lodging to patients at ECMC, Mercy Hospital, and Roswell.

They either live an hour or more away.

In some cases, they come from around the world. 

It also provides rooms for their families and caregivers.

All the guests were moved to hotels on the Thursday before the blizzard. 

But if it weren't for Kelley, it's likely neither the guests nor the staff would've been able to return. 

"My fear is that those pipes would have burst and if that had happened, I don't know what we would have done. I don't know how long it would've taken to fix ceilings and floors and replace furniture," Battista said. "It's a what-if that we don't have to find out now."

"When he called me, I was like 'thank you so much, we're just so grateful ' and he was just like oh it's not a big deal. I did it for you. He kind of brushed it off but I think that's what usually makes a hero a hero. They don't really want the acknowledgment. They don't need it. They just do it because they can help and they have the means to," Totaro said. 

The Grace Guest House opened in November 2017.

Last year, they housed about 1,000 families. 

Right before the storm, National Fuel gave the non-profit a grant to purchase a natural gas generator. 

The contractor wasn't able to get it installed in time, but now the Grace Guest House will never have to worry about running out of power again. 

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