BROWNSBURG, Ind. - "It’s very depressing,” said Stephen Chelf as he sat bundled up in a chair in his living room. He grew up in this house, and raised two kids here too.
“It was nice. We had a running fountain out front there… with a frog in it for God's sake,” Chelf said.
That fountain, along with the family accounting business, are now just distant memories. Chelf continues to add wood to the fireplace, which now acts as their only source of warmth after the furnace broke more than a decade ago. The house is now on the verge of being condemned.
“We’ve been making due," said son Josh Chelf. "Getting by with space heaters and the fire place.”
Josh takes care of Steve and his wife, both suffering from multiple health issues. Josh makes food and takes them to doctors appointments. He also keeps the house stocked with bottled water after their pipes burst in January leaving them with no running water.
“We never intended for things to get this bad," Josh said. "Things kinda just fell through our fingers.”
The condition of the Chelf home went unnoticed for years, until Danville firefighter Scott Butrum learned of the situation.
“I think it was a shock once I saw the conditions that they are living in and how bad it truly was,” Butrum said.
Butrum reached out to the community and now has local companies pitching it to replace the pipes, install a new heat pump and fix the decaying floors and ceilings.
“Safe, warm, and having running water is what we’re looking for,” Butrum said.
As Butrum takes a look at the roof falling into the now vacant bedroom, his wife works to clean up the living room. Pitching in their own time to make the house livable once again.
“It feels like I'm having a dream," Josh said. "I can't believe this is happening. We can't thank Scott enough, he’s our guardian angel.”
Butrum expects the total cost of the repairs to be about $20,000. A lot of that has been donated, but they still need all the help they can get.
If you would like to donate any gift cards for the family, Butrum says you can bring them to the Danville Fire Department.
There is also a bank account set up at North Salem State Bank under the name "Scott Butrum for the benefit of Steve and Jennifer Chelf."
You can also contact Scott Butrum at 317-289-8919.