Dozens of roofing professionals attending the 2016 International Roofing Expo (IRE) in Orlando continued the annual tradition of lending their time and skills to help others in the host city on Tuesday, Feb. 16 during Community Service Day.
Volunteers worked on three different projects in Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood where their carpentry, painting and building skills were needed to rejuvenate the exteriors of three aging homes just west of downtown. 
“This is just amazing, they’re all working so hard,” said Erma Smith as she watched separate groups of volunteers remodel her home of the last 32 years. 
Smith’s modest 760 square-foot Florida block house was originally built in 1958 and needed significant renovations, including the modernization of the windows and doors, weatherization, a new roof, and safety modifications. More than a dozen volunteers helped with replacing a side door, exterior paint, landscaping and building a handrail for the front door stairway.
She did custodial work for Florida Hospital and the Orange County School System for many years, but recently had to stop due to her declining health. She’s also the primary caregiver for a special needs granddaughter who lives with her and her son, now the family’s primary bread winner. 
For years, Smith had water leaking from her roof and got by with the support of friends and family making small repairs. However, these repairs are temporary solutions to a long-term problem. She said she’s looking forward to reduced energy expenses while also improving her quality of life. 
“All I’ve been doing is trying to keep it together with our income, and I don’t think I could’ve done this any other way,” she said. 
Working with Rebuilding Together Orlando – a local non-profit, volunteers also completed a fence repair, exterior painting and landscaping work on Debra Davis’ home in Parramore.
“It’s a big blessing for us to have this done,” said Davis, who lives with her teenage daughter.
Just a few blocks away, another group of volunteers removed extensive wood rot repairs and repainted the exterior of a third home. They also installed a back porch screen and replaced the door.
This is the seventh consecutive year of a community service at the IRE, and participants said it’s among their favorite events of the entire show.
“It all comes full circle,” said Nicole Eisenhardt of Tecta America. “You don’t have to have specific skill. It’s about doing something for someone else, and it’s an important part of what the IRE does while being here.”
The reward experience helps the homeowners and the volunteers alike, said Brandi McElhaney, the senior conference manager with Informa.
“It’s so heartwarming to see the dedication to giving back to the host cities that we’re in. The energy and enthusiasm is overwhelming,” said McElhaney, who coordinated the volunteer effort. “The homeowners are always so grateful and spend most of the day in tears and thanking the participants for giving them a better place to live.