“I’m so happy to have a roof over my head!” exclaimed Ina Simmons.
The lively, 72-year-old retired schoolteacher happily held court on her porch as volunteers from the roofing industry did repair work on her home. The group — made up of 2015 International Roofing Expo attendees, exhibitors and management —busied itself conducting exterior siding repairs, painting, interior repairs and property cleanup.
“You’re all angels of mercy who’ve come to help!” Simmons said. “My prayers got through.”
Simmons explained how winds from Hurricane Katrina caused her roof to collapse, allowing the rain to damage her home’s interior. Unable to afford the necessary repairs or secure the needed funds from her homeowners insurance company, Simmons has been forced to rough it since the storm ravaged the city.
“I was living on concrete floors ever since Katrina,” she added.
Sponsored by Sika Sarnafil, the Sixth Annual Community Service Day was a bustling, well-attended event. Members of Rebuilding Together New Orleans led a group of roofing industry volunteers who made repairs and improvements on Simmons’ home and that of her neighbor, Idella Cryer, in the Algiers Riverview neighborhood. The volunteers had their work cut out for them in this post-Katrina landscape.
Lindy Ryan, National Roofing Contractor’s Association’s (NRCA) newly elected president and senior vice president of service and leadership development for Tecta America, rolled up her sleeves to work on Simmons’ home. She explained, “It’s very important to give back. On the professional level, we help the communities who host our industry’s events; on the personal level, we get to know about the lives of people in other communities.”
Ryan was joined in her efforts by colleague Bill Good, NRCA executive vice president. “It’s an honor to be a part of this effort,” Good said. “It feels good to leave knowing that the resident is now living in a home that’s safe.”
Roughly a block from Simmons’ home, Cryer was proudly watching volunteers make repairs to her home. The 74-year-old New Orleans resident was decidedly more reserved than her vivacious neighbor, but just as appreciative of the efforts to help her. “I’m overwhelmed,” she said. “I might be crying, but they’re tears of joy; there are no words to express how grateful I am.”
Cryer’s house was rebuilt after Katrina, but she found it difficult to keep up with roof repairs on her limited income. Volunteers installed gutters and conducted fence repair and property cleanup, while Roofing Solutions and Roofing Supply Group donated labor and supplies to replace the roof. Lunch was provided by OMG Roofing Products, and transportation by Damato Enterprises.
“I’m glad I got the chance to be a part of this,” said Jim Barr, owner of Barr Roofing Company in Abilene, Texas. “It’s been a great experience!”
After the tools were put down at the end of the day, everyone involved felt good about a job well done. Stan Choiniere, technical director for OMG Roofing Products, said, “This is definitely a worthy cause, and we’re more than happy to help.” He added that OMG got its start doing charity work by helping out with a Habit for Humanity house in Springfield, Mass., close to the company’s headquarters, and it has been giving back ever since.
Choiniere’s sentiments were echoed by Stan Graveline, vice president of technical services for Sika Sarnafil. “It’s always good to do something to help out,” he said. “And when you have this many skilled contractors together in one location, it makes perfect sense to give back in this way.”