Ever notice how simple acts of kindness can make someone smile? Opening a door for a stranger, allowing someone with fewer items to cut in front of you in a check-out line and holding the elevator for someone even when you are in a hurry always will elicit smiles—if not words—of gratitude. Imagine the response, then, when something more significant occurs—such as donating a roof system or roofing materials. Certainly, you are doing something more than making someone's day. You're changing their lives.
For several years, Professional Roofing has been reporting how roofing professionals have contributed to charitable organizations. And since we first began our annual feature about charity, it seems the roofing industry's efforts have increased considerably. Following are just a few of many stories of selflessness occurring in the industry.
Although many contractors have been reporting business has been slow for a few years, that hasn't stopped them from trying to help those less fortunate.
For example, the Colorado Roofing Association partnered with the Denver chapter of Rebuilding Together™ to reroof the homes of 11 disadvantaged homeowners. This partnership has been in effect since 2001.
This year, 29 roofing contracting companies, eight roofing materials suppliers and eight roofing materials manufacturers participated in the event.
Materials donated included laminate shingles, base sheets, metal, felt and nails. More than 145 roofing workers provided labor for the jobs—some of which started as early as February to be completed by National Rebuilding Day, which was April 24. The estimated cost of labor and material donated is $4,100.
The scope of work included reroofing 11 homes, repairing 10 roof systems, replacing one gutter, installing three new roof decks and inspecting eight roof systems for possible damage.
Rebuilding Together, which is based in Washington, D.C., focuses its efforts on rehabilitating the homes of low-income homeowners who are elderly, disabled or otherwise unable to afford the repairs themselves. As an organization committed to giving, Rebuilding Together's staff members were confronted with a twist of fate: They were asked to accept a charitable contribution to them—a new slate roof system on the headquarters building.
During the course of a week, four workers from James Myers Co., Beltsville, Md., tore off the existing slate roof system—which had been leaking—and replaced the roof deck, slate and copper flashings.
"It was fun to watch the project's progress out of my window," says Patty Johnson, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Rebuilding Together. "I have a new appreciation for the skill and talent involved in replacing a roof."
The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers has long encouraged its local offices to promote charitable contributions within their communities. Although many local offices participated in charitable events throughout the past year, Local 20 and Local 54, in particular, reported significant contributions to various causes.
Roofers Local 20 in Raytown, Mo.—for the 17th year—participated in the annual Building & Trades Dollars Against Diabetes Campaign, known as DADs Day. Participants raise money for diabetes research; this year, 34 Local 20 members participated and raised $4,866.
Through The Blueprint for Cure program, U.S. union construction workers have joined the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation to help find a cure for diabetes. Since 1987, DADs Day, a result of the program, has raised more than $17 million. The Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation presented a plaque to the union to commemorate the fact that union donations reached $1 million.
Local 54 in Seattle also came to the aid of a needy cause. Patti Metcalfe, a widow whose husband had been a member of Local 54, needed a new roof on her house. Her existing roof was about 24 squares (223 m²) and had two composition roof systems installed over a shingle roof system, which was about 65 years old. During the course of two days, the 30 volunteer workers tore off the existing roof systems and installed a new plywood deck and shingle roof system.
The union also joined a partnership between Habitat for Humanity and the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. From May 16-22, union members helped Habitat for Humanity affiliates around the United States improve houses of low-income families.
"I am extremely proud of our local union members, signatory contractors, and roofing equipment and material manufacturers who selflessly give their time, talent and products to help those in need," says John Martini, international president of the union. "These are not isolated instances of charity. The sense of satisfaction, community pride and downright good feeling these volunteers and contributors derive from their participation in these charity events is what makes them repeat these actions."
The manufacturing community also is doing its part to improve the lives of others. Not only did many manufacturers supply roofing materials for various charitable projects, they donated other things, as well.
For example, employees of Valley Forge, Pa.-based CertainTeed Corp.'s plant in Birmingham, Ala., devised a unique way to spend the excess funds in their flexible spending account. The plant's employees donated $10,000 to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
"We try to select different organizations for use of these funds each year," says Gail Birdsong, human-resources manager for the plant. "With many worthy nonprofit organizations to choose from, we selected St. Jude's not only because it provides treatment to children with catastrophic diseases, but also because it is an educational and teaching institution for the research of pediatric diseases."
In a similar effort, the company's Norwood, Mass., plant donated $7,500 from its employee flexible spending account to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Brookline, Mass. The institute is a research and treatment facility for children and adults who suffer from cancer.
Another company, Paslode, Vernon Hills, Ill., had for several years dedicated itself to assisting the Lake County Haven, a social service agency that helps meet the needs of homeless women and children. The company had provided financial support and gifts during the holidays, as well as assisted with fund-raising drives. But the company wanted to do more.
"People at the haven, for a variety of reasons, have ended up in a difficult place, and they don't want to be there," says Tom Southall, Paslode's general manager. "They want to get back to living a more normal and healthy existence, but it's clear because of their depth of problems they can't get there on their own. I have a fundamental belief that we have a responsibility to help others who need our help when we are in a position to do so."
Based on this belief, Southall went to the haven and asked what else his company could do to assist those living there. Ultimately, it was decided Paslode would help educate the women about how to find jobs. The company held seminars during which the women would learn interviewing skills. Paslode representatives were so impressed with some of the women, the company hired seven women from the haven as full-time employees to perform light-tool assembly operations.
Elk Corp., Dallas, is another manufacturer that has offered its assistance to a nonprofit organization. The company donated more than 400 squares (3716 m²) of its Prestique® shingles, self-adhering underlayment and roof accessories to complete the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's new headquarters in Missoula, Mont. The organization focuses on international wildlife conservation and is responsible for conservation of more than 3 million acres (1.2 hectares) of wildlife habitat throughout North America.
"We feel a partnership with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a natural tie-in," says Curt Barker, Elk's vice president of sales and marketing. "We are happy to donate Elk roofing materials to this worthy organization so its funds can be used for its central mission of conserving, restoring and preserving the habitats of elk and other wildlife."
Bradco Supply Corp., Avenel, N.J., recently made a significant donation to Rebuilding Together—$10,000 and a promise to deliver in-kind donations in the form of roofing supplies.
"With this significant support from Bradco supply, we will be better able to achieve our mission of helping millions of low-income homeowners," Johnson says. "The company has stepped forward at a critical time, demonstrating a leadership role in the roofing industry in a direct way. A decent home starts with a quality roof: Without that, there is little hope."
Barry Segal, Bradco Supply's president and CEO, says, "We recognize the importance of being a good corporate citizen and felt Rebuilding Together was perfectly aligned with the work of our company."
Bradco Supply's contribution to Rebuilding Together is only a part of the company's charitable activities. Segal says the company also makes regular donations to the United Jewish Appeal and American Red Cross and contributes to fund-raising efforts to fight multiple sclerosis.
Segal says, "We support literally hundreds of other charities, often at the request of our customers and suppliers."
As people who give of themselves for charitable causes know, the joy in seeing someone so grateful for something you do is immeasurable. The roofing industry has some great stories to tell, and the ones mentioned here are only a few of many. To share something your company has done, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ambika Puniani is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA's director of communications.