Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about us Women Roofers. Find out how we got up there, why we do it and how you can help too!
How did the Women Roofers get started?
Rutherford Housing Partnership and the local United Way co-sponsor an annual Week of Caring – an expansion of the national Make a Difference Day program. We match volunteers to needed repair jobs for low-income homeowners. In the fall of 2002, a Sunday school class of First Baptist Rutherfordton volunteered to repair the leaky roof of a house.
But only three showed up – all women – to help the skilled leader. They fully expected him to say something to the effect of, “Well, we’ll have to try another day when we get some REAL help.” Nope. He said, “Let’s get to work” without giving a second thought to the fact that they were women who had no clue what to do.
The three enjoyed the experience so much they talked their friends into volunteering to replace an entire roof – under the direction of the guy now affectionately called “Bossman Billy.”
Hey, wait. The leader is a guy.
Yes. We depend on skilled male roofing and construction volunteers to lead our work – particularly the replacement of underlayment, when necessary, or facia boards. But we have learned enough to have done several roofs with no men on the roof with us at all.
How many Women Roofers are there?
At least 60 different women have helped at least once. Once a Women Roofer, always a Women Roofer. When the email notification of a work day is sent out, 150 receive the message.
How many roofs have you completed?
Good question. We’re not sure. After our first 10 years, we estimated at least 55 repairs or full roof replacements.
We have traveled to the Gulf three times to aid families affected by Hurricane Katrina. Among other repairs, we worked on four roofs during those trips.
We have traveled to six other N.C. counties, primarily to help with Women Build projects through Habitat for Humanity but also to encourage women to form their own repair teams. We're happy to report Women Roofers Too (or Two) is now in operation for Durham (NC) Habitat for Humanity. We also roofed a Habitat house in Arkansas one summer.
How do you get the shingles up on the roof?
That’s the hardest part of the job. None of The Women Roofers can lift a bundle of shingles, throw it across her shoulders and carry it up a ladder, which is routine with a group of male roofers. We tear open the bundles and pass them six or seven at a time up the ladder and to the roof – fire-brigade style.
Rutherford Housing Partnership also owns a ladder-vator – a motorized lift – to lift the bundles up to the roof, but we still have to break down the bundles to put them onto or take them off of the ladder-vator.
Are you paid for your work?
No. The Women Roofers is a volunteer group. We have roofed a few houses as fundraisers for Rutherford Housing Partnership. In these cases, the homeowner buys all the materials, and a donation is made to RHP for the labor.
Can guys be Women Roofers?
If they want. We have several guys, in addition to our leader, who help us regularly. But we’re not sure they want to be called “Women Roofers.” They appreciate our efforts and want to support the work of RHP, so they often join us on the roof.
The one who never got asked to return constantly called us “Sugar” or “Babe.” That didn’t go over well.
Plus they have to follow the cardinal rule of The Women Roofers: What’s said on the roof stays on the roof!
What's the appeal of roofing...why do you do this?
Here are some of our answers:
“I don’t believe God put us here to just take up space. He wants us to give back in some way to ease the struggles of others.”
“Part of the fun is getting a group of women together to do this. But if we can help draw attention to the huge need for housing repair in this county, then that makes it all worthwhile.”
“I like the challenge of doing something I’ve never done before.”
“This is about a group of people who share a small amount of construction skill and a great amount of love, doing the work that must be done for our fellow brothers and sisters of humankind.”
I am afraid of heights. How can I help?
There is a great deal of work to do on the ground picking up shingle pieces and nails, handing up tools, materials and water.
But you don’t have to roof to help someone in need. Think outside the box – outside your comfort zone. Maybe you form a window-washing crew and volunteer to help senior adults through the local senior center. Maybe you and your best friends enjoy painting. Do the same thing for senior adults at the local senior center. Maybe you enjoy making things. Volunteer to help the local senior center make greeting cards to sell as a fund-raiser.
We all have gifts that can be put to use for others.