When Kevin Santos found himself in the middle of winter with no heat due to a leaky gas line that would cost hundreds of dollars to fix, he didn't know where to turn.
He and his neighbors started smelling gas around his Fourth Street home in Braddock in the middle of last week. When he called the gas company to report the odor, they discovered a leak in the line between the house and the curb and immediately shut off the service.
Mr. Santos, his wife Edna, his daughter Amanda Bell and her 15-month-old son, Josiah, were suddenly living with no heat and no hot water.
Mr. Santos, a nonaffiliated minister and a part-time missionary to Brazil, said the leak was his responsibility to repair as the homeowner, but he didn't have enough money to fix it.
"The expense of that is more than we could handle," Mr. Santos said.
He then decided to call Braddock Mayor John Fetterman to see if he knew of someone who could help.
Mr. Fetterman did.
For the past several years, John L. Sullivan of Sullivan Super Service Inc., a Braddock-based plumbing company, has donated $500 a month to "worthy causes," whether it's a local nonprofit organization or a family in need. A few years ago, Mr. Sullivan replaced a broken furnace for an elderly Braddock woman, Mr. Fetterman said, so when Mr. Santos came to him with his dilemma, he knew who to call.
"I just called John and then it just went from there," Mr. Fetterman said. A crew from Sullivan Super Service fixed the leak this week while the Santos family stayed in the former St. Michael's Convent in Braddock, which now serves as a hostel. Sullivan was on track to complete the repairs Wednesday, meaning the Santos family could be back home as soon as today.
Mr. Sullivan said when Mr. Fetterman called and asked if he could help, he didn't hesitate, saying he has a lot of "respect and confidence" in Mr. Fetterman's judgment.
He said the repairs added up to about $1,200 worth of work.
In the meantime, the Santos family is staying at the hostel, which Mr. Fetterman said is available for "people in various transition stages."
"It's kind of a catch-all housing situation for people that are making Braddock better," he said, and that includes Mr. Santos.
"Great people being helped by a great business," Mr. Fetterman said. "It's win-win."
Mr. Santos said he's "so grateful to the Sullivan company."
"I can't even express it in words," he said from his home on Tuesday. "It's cold in here!"
Annie Siebert: email@example.com or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.