By Konstantine Fekos
The Meadville Tribune
Roof rehabilitation is often too expensive and labor-intensive for the scope of Make a Difference Day (MADD), says organizer Dave Roncolato, but he refuses to let limited resources hinder complete service to the community.
In conjunction with the United Way of Western Crawford County, MADD organizers have secured special help to fix the roofs of locals in need. AmeriCorps and local civic groups are stepping forward to complete these expensive and complicated projects.
“We didn’t even advertise roofing for Make a Difference Day because we get so many requests even without putting that out as something we do,” said Roncolato, director of community service at Allegheny College.
With many roofs in critical conditions, Roncolato looked into additional resources to meet the needs of area elderly and residents with limited income, otherwise eligible for MADD services.
That’s where AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps came in.
“Unlike other programs, this is a mobile crew that comes in for a period of time and does relief work,” Roncolato said. “We expect this influx of labor for a period of about five weeks.”
The Community Corps labor crew has dealt with repairs and services for natural disaster relief. MADD organizers found their experience and community commitment ideal for potential projects.
Partnered with the Community Improvement Center, a Community Corps team of about 10 to 12 young adults will work on project requests to benefit low income individuals and families in western Crawford County, according to Lauren Lowery of United Way.
MADD organizers are currently investigating potential projects, and the United Way has opened a phone line for residents to submit requests.
The request hotline, (814) 724-5948, will run through March 6, according to United Way statements.
Labor is expected to span between March 9 and April 18. United Way reports indicated that community service workers will cover several home improvement projects with a focus on roof repairs.
“We will have a very committed, hardworking labor crew to help us with this,” Roncolato said. “The situation is we need the community to get behind this and raise money for materials to complete the projects we couldn’t get to (on MADD).”
Skilled volunteers or project donors can call the United Way to lend assistance by calling the United Way at (814) 337-1251.
Roncolato has reached out to religious organizations and local civic groups for assistance.
“We’re asking if folks can, in some cases, have benefit dinners or donate resources,” he said.
Roofing projects will cost an estimated $1,000, according to Roncolato, who hopes organizations can cover half or more of a complete project.
“We’re also looking for skilled supervisors to help with one or more projects,” Roncolato added. “We have a handful of projects being investigated right now and we know we’ll have more called in.”
MADD organizers reported more than a dozen significant responses to projects they hope to accomplish this spring.
“We’re not taking away from skilled craftsmen or people who make a living with these jobs,” Roncolato emphasized. “We’re dealing with an element of the population who wouldn’t be able to afford these repairs.”
Residents in that category are invited to call the hotline between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and must complete an application process to determine eligibility, Lowery reported.
“Organizers stress that submitting a project doesn’t guarantee that work will be done,” she stated in a release. “Volunteers must visit work sites to assess the safety and the scope of the work before determining if a project will be accepted.”
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get help and to give help
If you have a roof repair that you cannot afford to pay for yourself, call 724-5948, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. through March 6 to see if you can get free help. Labor is expected to span between March 9 and April 18. Also, skilled volunteers or project donors can call the United Way to lend assistance by calling the United Way at (814) 337-1251.