The power of commitment

The roofing industry continues its long tradition of charity


Each year, Professional Roofing's August issue features stories of generous contributions made by roofing professionals to people in need. This "charity" feature always is one of our readers' favorites.

But what does "charity" mean? Does it mean kindness and generosity? Sympathy? Philanthropy? Or just trying to do the right thing?

As is always the case, the roofing industry gave generously during the past 12 months. Roofing contractors, manufacturers and individuals donated money, time, labor and materials to people who desperately needed it. While researching this year's stories, I realized what charity really means: Where there's a will, there's a way.

Whether it's organizing a food drive, helping repair a building damaged by a tornado or donating materials for needed roof repairs, the roofing industry responds tirelessly. As long as there are people who are unable to afford necessary repairs to their homes, roofing professionals will be knocking on their doors, ready to lend a hand.

Following are merely a few, to be sure, of the charitable donations roofing industry members made during the past year.

Disaster response

Unfortunately, natural disasters are not only unavoidable, they're unpredictable. They can strike at any time with little to no warning, throwing people's lives into turmoil. Violent storms, earthquakes and floods can rip roofs off buildings or demolish buildings altogether.

One of the worst natural disasters in history—a catastrophic 9.0-magnitude undersea earthquake—occurred off the coast of Japan March 11, resulting in devastating losses. The earthquake, the most powerful known to have hit Japan and one of the five most powerful ever recorded, resulted in tsunami waves that killed thousands, damaged countless buildings and infrastructure, and caused numerous nuclear accidents.

Immediately following the disaster, MAGE SOLAR USA, Dublin, Ga., part of the globally operating MAGE SOLAR GROUP, Reutlingen, Germany, established a $35,000 disaster relief fund. The fund's goal is to provide help once the situation stabilizes enough for reconstruction to get under way and a clearer picture of specific long-term needs emerges.

"Our strategy was to leave the immediate aid to the first responders and focus our efforts on relief with a more long-term benefit," says Sylvia Minton, MAGE SOLAR USA's senior vice president of government, institutional and corporate affairs. "Our advisory committee currently is weighing which project will benefit the most from our relief fund."

In June, the company announced it had formed a partnership with the Dublin Rotary Club Foundation to ensure donations from the public to the disaster relief fund will be tax-deductible.

Morris Bank of Dublin and the Dublin Rotary Club also pledged to support the fund with additional donations.

One of the U.S.' most devastating disasters during the past year was a series of tornadoes that tore through the southeastern U.S., as well as parts of the Midwest and Northeast, in late April. There were more than 300 confirmed tornadoes and 322 fatalities.

On April 27, a large tornado struck Tuscaloosa, Ala., killing at least 41 people. NRCA member TAMKO® Building Products Inc.'s shingle production plant in Tuscaloosa was damaged by the northern edge of the tornado, halting shingle production for a month. Several of the location's employees also suffered serious damage to or loss of their homes.

After experiencing the tornado and its effects first-hand, TAMKO Building Products donated $250,000 to the West Alabama Chapter of the American Red Cross to help the region with its recovery from the tornadoes.

"We've seen Red Cross representatives at our plant and in our neighborhoods," says Tom Deloughery, general manager at the Tuscaloosa plant. "We sincerely appreciate what they have done to help Tuscaloosa residents recover from the storms."

Near the end of May, less than a month later, another series of devastating tornadoes damaged the Midwest south to Oklahoma. One of the hardest-hit areas was Joplin, Mo., which was hit by a large, multiple-vortex tornado that killed at least 154 and injured more than 1,000 additional people. TAMKO Building Products' corporate headquarters and several manufacturing facilities are located in Joplin.

Luckily, all the company's Joplin-area locations were north of the tornado's path and avoided damage. However, about 25 of the company's employees lost their homes.

To support American Red Cross relief efforts in the area, TAMKO Building Products donated another gift of $1 million to the Greater Ozarks Chapter of the American Red Cross.

"Having just rebuilt our Tuscaloosa plant, we know the impact of these storms on our own employees and others," says David Humphreys, TAMKO Building Products' president and chief executive officer. "We are pleased to make this donation in support of our employees and all residents of Joplin."

Joplin's recovery is ongoing, and volunteers to help rebuild still are needed; the Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team, overseen by the Melbourne Church of Christ Elders in Melbourne, Fla., has set up a relief effort with Mount Hope Church of Christ in Joplin. The Disaster Response Team is seeking monetary and material donations, as well as volunteers to help clean up debris, tear down destroyed homes, perform roofing work, install windows, and perform electrical and plumbing work, among other tasks.

"We have a commitment from Mount Hope Church for up to one year to house and feed any volunteers," says Tim Hershey, a volunteer with the Disaster Response Team.

Invaluable donations

Of course, not all roof system installation and material donations are spawned by natural disasters; there are many people who cannot afford needed roof system repairs and replacements on an everyday basis. To help fulfill that need, some roofing companies partner with local charities or housing organizations.

One such company is Dow Building Solutions, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich. In March, the company donated insulation and air sealing products from its building envelope product portfolio to Habitat for Humanity's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. The initiative is designed to help Habitat for Humanity U.S. affiliates support homeowners in distressed neighborhoods suffering from high foreclosure rates, abandonment and home maintenance issues.

For the initiative, Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity partnered with 70 low-income homeowners in Jonesboro, Ga., to complete exterior improvements and maintenance work, weatherization and energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes. Dow Building Solutions donated its STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene Foam Insulation, GREAT STUFF™ Window & Door Insulating Foam Sealant, GREAT STUFF PRO™ Insulating Foam Sealants and GREAT STUFF Work Wipes, among other products, for the project.

"This marks the 30th year that Dow has supported Habitat for Humanity initiatives, and we are especially glad to participate in this initiative for revitalizing and retrofitting some of America's most distressed neighborhoods," says Scott Young, Dow Building Solutions' global director of energy efficiency and sustainability.

GAF, Wayne, N.J., also works with Habitat for Humanity; it recently announced a national alliance with the organization through which GAF will provide roofing materials for GAF Master Elite® and Certified™ Contractors donating roof system installation services for Habitat for Humanity homes in their communities. More than 4,000 GAF Master Elite and Certified Contractors are eligible to participate in the partnership. All installed roof systems will carry GAF's System Plus Ltd. warranty.

The alliance is Habitat for Humanity's first national partnership to provide construction labor and materials. GAF entered the alliance to celebrate its 125th anniversary.

"There already has been a tremendous amount of interest in this initiative: I field many calls each week from contractors who want to join the program and from Habitat for Humanity affiliates looking to connect with contractors," says Alyssa Hall, GAF's marketing communications manager. "In this storm-dominated year, contractors are really putting in an effort to help their communities, and as the program becomes more widely known by affiliates, it will continue to grow."

Also in celebration of its 125th anniversary, GAF participated in three Habitat for Humanity projects June 22 for families in need. The company held a drawing to select from all employees interested in participating, and 25 winners were able to spend a day working in one of three locations—Bakersfield, Calif.; Dallas; or Paterson, N.J.

"Each build was different depending on where the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate was in the process of building the house," Hall says. "Some groups were hammering together framework; some were installing doors and kitchen cabinets; some were building decks; and some were painting interiors.

"From GAF's perspective, this was an excellent way to continue to support Habitat for Humanity," Hall continues. "Our national arrangement is through its corporate office, but these builds allowed us to make financial contributions to local affiliates, as well as contribute our time. The employees selected to participate all have expressed wonderful feedback about the experience and are excited for potential future GAF builds."

The company also is a regular contributor to the television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." It has participated in six projects with the show since November 2010.

"At this point, we are being contacted on a case-by-case basis by the builders for each episode asking us to contribute," Hall says. "Once we said 'yes' the first time, the requests starting coming in more frequently. We also work closely with the television program's team to make sure the product matches the project and we hit their specific timing requirements.

"There's not a lot of publicity for donations at our level and no real inclusion in the episodes," Hall continues. "We do these projects to help the families in need. We get the details of the family's situation before each project, and some of them are so incredible. How do you say no to an opportunity to help?"

Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp., Louisville, Ky., also regularly contributes to "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." It has participated in the program three times, twice within the past year.

For a Dec. 12, 2010, episode, Metal Sales Manufacturing donated its Stile metal roof panels to the Gaston family residence in Pensacola, Fla. After the death of his mother, Finis Gaston left college one year before graduating to move home and take care of his niece and nephews. In honor of his sacrifice, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" constructed a new home for the Gaston family, which includes the new Stile metal roof.

Metal Sales Manufacturing also donated roofing materials for the Jan. 9 edition of the show, which featured a Louisville family—Jeff and Shelley Lampe and their six children. The family faced ongoing medical and financial difficulties that forced them to forego needed home repairs.

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" built a new home for the family, as well as a new garage. Metal Sales Manufacturing donated its Vertical Seam roof panels and trim for installation on the garage.

"It is such a pleasure to work on this type of project, especially when it helps our own community," says Steve Letnich, Metal Sales Manufacturing's vice president of sales and marketing.

Both episodes aired nationally on ABC.

Metal Sales Manufacturing's contributions to its community are not limited to the television show. On April 13, the company participated in a local miniature golf benefit hosted by The Cabbage Patch Settlement House Inc., a nonprofit organization that strives to empower families and children to be self-sufficient by helping them maximize their spiritual, social, emotional, physical, moral, economic and educational potential.

The event, Putt fore the Patch, featured 18 holes of miniature golf, each hole sponsored by a local benefactor. Metal Sales Manufacturing was a signature hole sponsor. The event was attended by more than 250 players, spectators and volunteers and raised more than $15,000 for the organization.

Additionally, Metal Sales Manufacturing supports a team of about 40 of its employees, their family and friends who work to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer through the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign.

The team has been dedicated to the cause since 2008 and has raised more than $12,500 for the campaign. Metal Sales Manufacturing has matched the amount, bringing total donations to more than $25,000. The team participates in the annual Making Strides 5-km walk through Louisville and has hosted community bake sales, a company roller skating night and a community bluegrass night with four local bands donating their time.

The team was formed in honor of Metal Sales Manufacturing employees Kelly McCutcheon, a one-year breast cancer survivor at the time, and Sherry Petty, who recently had been diagnosed. Soon after, Mary Webb, another survivor, joined the company and the team.

"Realizing how many people are affected by breast cancer within our own organization really spurred this movement," says Denise Hall, Metal Sales Manufacturing's transportation assistant and captain of the Making Strides team. "Everyone is influenced by the disease in one way or another, and we want to do our part to help fight it."

Annual drives and donations

Some companies establish their own ways to give back to their local communities through annual events or initiatives.

Eldersburg, Md.-based S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows, for example, holds an Annual Holiday Food Drive to benefit the Maryland Food Bank. The company collects food donations and matches each pound of food donated with a $1 donation.

December 2010 marked the company's 7th Annual Holiday Food Drive, and the company collected more than 1,000 pounds of food.

Since its first drive in 2003, S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows has donated more than 3 1/2 tons of food and more than $10,000 to Maryland Food Bank.

S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows also started a neighborhood outreach program, its Spring Fest and Open House, several years ago. The annual event is held at S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows' showroom in Eldersburg. The company invites everyone in the community to attend a day of free food and fun with various games and activities and provides free booth space for local charities to do giveaways, distribute literature and educate those who attend.

The most recent Spring Fest and Open House was held June 11, and local charities in attendance included Days End Horse Rescue, the March of Dimes, Carroll County Food Sunday, the Carroll County Youth Services Bureau, Ravens Nest 14 and Relay4Life. There was a live radio broadcast by a local station and free ticket giveaways to Orioles baseball games and concert events. Additionally, S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows gave a grand prize of $1,500 in home improvements to one homeowner.

"Almost all of our employees donated their time to the event," says Charlie McCurry, S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows' director of sales. "The event was a success by any measure. The weather held out, and a great time was had by all. To top it off, the company made a monetary contribution to all the participating charities."

Escalante Enterprises, El Paso, Texas, also hosts an annual charity program—its Rainy Day Bailout Charity.

Going on its third year this month, the charity asks contestants to write a letter of 200 words or less explaining their personal or financial hardships that have prevented them from making necessary repairs to their homes and efforts they've made to overcome the hardships. Escalante Enterprises then selects a winner who will receive a new roof system for free.

The second annual Rainy Day Bailout winner, announced in September 2010, was Guadalupe Villalba, a 60-year-old woman on the verge of foreclosing on her home. She inherited the home from her mother, who had failed to pay property taxes. Villalba had exhausted all efforts to save the home, including attempting to seek a reverse mortgage to pay off the lien that had been placed on the property.

Villalba was nominated by Millie Garcia, a reverse mortgage consultant for MetLife Inc. According to Garcia, because the home's roof was in such poor condition, it did not meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines needed to deem the house as being in "fair condition." If the home was not brought up to HUD guidelines, the home would be foreclosed and Villalba and her family would be displaced.

Upon learning she would receive a new roof, Villalba said: "I have wanted to fix my roof for so long, but I haven't been able to. This is such a blessing; I have so many problems. I am so thankful and happy!"

The 2011 Rainy Day Bailout winner will be selected in September.

"We've noticed area contractors have started doing similar programs, which is exciting because we feel we're partly responsible for creating a progressive movement in our community," says Jessica Escalante, Escalante Enterprises' project coordinator.

Rebuilding Together®

Many roofing companies and associations, including NRCA, perform charitable work through partnerships with Rebuilding Together, the U.S.' largest nonprofit organization that focuses on home renovations. Rebuilding Together works to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize communities by providing free rehabilitation and critical repairs to homes of low-income Americans. The organization is based in Washington, D.C., and has more than 250 local programs throughout the U.S.

NRCA has been a national corporate sponsor of Rebuilding Together for about 13 years and participates in many of the organization's activities and initiatives. NRCA Executive Vice President Bill Good currently serves as chairman of Rebuilding Together's board of directors, and the association is a national partner of Rebuilding Together's annual Kickoff to Rebuild event, held the Friday before the Super Bowl in the sporting event's host city.

On Feb. 3, Rebuilding Together hosted its 16th annual Kickoff to Rebuild event in Arlington, Texas. NRCA was a sponsor of the event, which involved hundreds of volunteers, celebrities and political figures performing energy-efficiency upgrades, roofing work, accessibility modifications and other critical renovations on 12 homes.

Additionally, NRCA sponsored Rebuilding Together's 19th annual golf tournament May 20. Funds raised by the tournament go toward the home-renovation programs and services provided by Rebuilding Together.

Renovations were performed on the homes of two elderly veterans—Jack Brown, an 87-year-old disabled veteran who has lived with his wife, Patricia, in the house for 48 years, and Bruce Dahlin, a 60-year-old unemployed veteran. The volunteers repaired Dahlin's roof and landscaped and repainted the exteriors of both houses.

Working in advance of Community Service Day, Commercial Roofers Inc., Las Vegas, worked with Rebuilding Together in December 2010 to reroof the Browns' home. A three- to four-person crew spent about four days tearing off the existing asphalt shingle roof system on the 50-year-old home, removing an existing sun deck and installing a new asphalt shingle roof system. Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning donated the shingles for the project, and Las Vegas Roofing Supply Inc. donated the material delivery.

NRCA and roofing industry members also have the opportunity to work with Rebuilding Together during the International Roofing Expo® (IRE). Each year, the IRE holds its Community Service Day to benefit the community in which the IRE is hosted. On Feb. 15, for the IRE's second annual Community Service Day, it partnered with Rebuilding Together, NRCA's Community Service and Disaster Relief Fund Committee, and 40 volunteers to give back to the Las Vegas community. The event was sponsored by Sika Sarnafil, Canton, Mass.

The IRE will hold its third annual Community Service Day Feb. 21 in Orlando, Fla.

The big picture

These are just a few of the contributions made by roofing industry members during the past year. There undoubtedly are countless contributions made by many other companies that go unmentioned.

The roofing industry proves every year that it is giving and generous. Each contribution, small or large, makes a big difference to the recipient. But if you take a step back and look at the big picture, you can see just how committed this industry's members really are to helping people and making a difference.


Ashley St. John is Professional Roofing's associate editor.

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