KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kansas City, Kansas, police officers teamed up with a local HVAC company to do something special for a veteran, demonstrating what community policing is all about.
Harold Tjaden, a 90-year-old U.S. Navy vet, lost his wife of 66 years about eight months ago. He’s also had trouble keeping up maintenance on his Rosedale home.
While Tjaden remains a proud and independent man, he admitted Friday that he was a lot more excited on the inside than he showed on the outside when officers with the KCK Community Policing Unit and technicians from Anthony Plumbing, Heating and Cooling dropped by to install a new HVAC system.
"It's a very emotional thing to have this happen to you," Tjaden said.
KCK Ofc. Mark Palmerin became friends with Tjaden a few years ago. He'd see Tjaden outside when he'd visit his son, who lives on the same block and later met Tjaden's wife, Margaret.
Palmerin was thrilled to learn how much Friday meant to Tjaden.
"I was just thinking this guy is a veteran and he needs help," Palmerin said.
He had visited Tjaden after Margaret died in October.
"I told (him) all my problems I had over the years and I didn't have any money to fix it," Tjaden said.
He has one less thing to worry about now thanks to a community effort.
“At 90 years old, you worry about people like that already,” KCK Ofc. Steve Kopp said. “We felt like, ‘Man, we've got to do something to help this guy.’”
Palmerin and Kopp got together to figure out a plan.
Anthony Plumbing, Heating and Cooling agreed to install a brand-new HVAC system and duct work for free.
"It's awfully emotional and makes me have faith in humanity again," Tjaden said.
It’s yet another example of the impact community policing can make.
"A lot of it goes unnoticed, but this one got noticed," Kopp said.
And Tjaden couldn't thank his friends, old and new, enough.