Father turns grief into historic farmhouse makeover – News – The Indep…

Canal Fulton couple restores 1835 property in Plain Township to make it a “house of hope … healing.”

PLAIN TWP. The aged brick farmhouse near the corner of Market Avenue N and Schneider Street has slowly improved over the past couple of years. New paint. A new roof. A parking lot.

What neighbors and passersby haven’t seen is the restoration of a man’s heart.

Dan Daniel, 59, and his girlfriend, Kelley Dario, 57, have spent countless hours renovating the house and the surrounding property, which are owned by Bethel Church in Canton.

When the projected is finished, “it will be a house of hope, a house of healing,” Daniel said.

It already has been for him.

‘He had made it’

The Canal Fulton couple started renovating the house in June 2017, about a year after Dan Daniel’s son, Joshua Daniel, died from a drug overdose.

“Josh was an amazing kid,” Dan Daniel said. “He didn’t have a person who didn’t like him.”

Joshua Daniel stood 6-foot-3-inches and had blue eyes and blond hair. He was soccer star for Northwest High School and got into bodybuilding. He also was a father.

Dan Daniel said his son became addicted to opioid painkillers after hurting a shoulder during a workout. When Joshua could no longer get prescriptions, he started buying painkillers on the street. He pleaded guilty in 2007 to aggravated drug trafficking and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Sometime after his release, Joshua got a job selling cars for J.D. Byrider. Daniel wasn’t thrilled with his son’s career choice, but Joshua thrived as a salesman. He drove a nice car. He bought a house with a pool.

Dan Daniel wears a light blue rubber bracelet around his wrist. It’s inscribed with his son’s name and motto, “Always be closing.”

“He was living on top of the world,” Dan Daniel said. “I was so proud. As far as I thought, he had made it.”

Joshua Daniel died June 26, 2016, of an overdose after using heroin and alcohol. His body was found next to his pool. He was 30 years old.

After Joshua’s death, Dan Daniel thought about suicide. Dario pushed him to go to Bethel Church. The pastor, Scott Spencer, was an old friend of theirs from Springfield High School.

“I was the tailback, he was the quarterback,” Dan Daniel said.

But Daniel didn’t want to go to church. He always felt he might burst into flames if he got too close one, he joked.

He was arguing on the phone with Dario about church one day when he bumped into Spencer in a hardware store.

“We haven’t missed a Sunday I think in three years,” Dan Daniel said.

Hope House

In the early 2000s, Bethel Church bought 13 acres, including a brick farmhouse built in 1835, at 5901 Market Ave. N. The church planned to move to the new location from its building on 25th Street NW, but that never happened, said Spencer, who came to the church after it had purchased the property.

Attempts to sell the land failed. Spencer said he thought the house and property would be a nice place for retreats and support-group meetings, but he didn’t have time to fix them up.

But Dan Daniel was enthusiastic. Spencer told his old friend they would take on the project together, but they had to get help.

“Then we just poured our hearts into this,” Dan Daniel said.

There are few parts of the house that haven’t been fixed or renovated, from the basement to the attic.

Dan Daniel, Dario, Spencer and other installed new ceilings and repaired damaged plaster. They put in new plumbing to replace pipes stolen by vandals. They hung new doors and stripped the floors down to the original white-oak boards. They built a new deck and cut down trees that were too close to the house.

A couple of weeks ago, Dan Daniel was gutting and repairing an old bathroom where water had damaged the ceiling and walls.

Throughout the house there are inspirational mottos: “Blessed.” “Grace.” “Peace.” “Joy.” “This is my happy place.” “Hope House”

Dan Daniel said working on the house, along with church and counseling, helped him cope with Joshua’s death.

“It saved his life,” Dario said.

 

Helping hands

The project is about 80 percent finished, and the church has already used the building for support-group meetings, Spencer said.

“If we had to pay for everything that has happened so far, I’d bet there’s a quarter-million dollars that we would have had to shell out,” the pastor said.

Thanks to donations of time, supplies, equipment and furnishings, the church has only spent about $40,000.

For example, they were able to get 200 dump-truck loads of fill dirt and 40 dump-truck loads of ground asphalt donated for the parking lot, Dan Daniel said.

He and Dario, who run Grasons Co. of Summit County, an estate sale franchise, said they’ve raised $15,000 for the project through a rummage sale and two golf outings.

“It’s amazing how everyone has united to help,” Dan Daniel said.

He said he hoped the house would someday host 12-step meetings for those struggling with addiction and grief-support meetings for families who have lost loved ones.

There are also plans to build a grieving garden, a walking path and a small amphitheater on the property.

“I really believe we have a calling to reach out to our community because the community is in pain,” Dario said. “It’s definitely humbled us and given us a purpose.”

 

 


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