Research tells us that when we pause to turn our focus outward and participate in a community project or help a person in need, our feelings of satisfaction and purpose soar. Michael Steger, a professor of psychology at The University of Kentucky, has extensively researched the impact of good deeds on the psyche, finding that people who perform acts of kindness and charity are significantly happier than peers who pursue feel-good activities. And little bonds two people more rapidly than working together for the common good.
Homebound No More: The Roofers Build a Wheelchair Ramp
‘Do good, be happy’ was borne out in Dallas last week as the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association’s (MRCA’s) Young Contractors Council (YCC) held a giving back event in association with Rebuilding Together of Greater Dallas. The young contractors partnered with their mentors to rehabilitate two area houses, one inhabited by veterans, in dire need of repair. It was tough to discern who was happier at the close of one of the projects: the crowd of contractors, who had volunteered in shifts, or the rejoicing elderly woman who had been stuck inside her home for three years with no functioning wheelchair ramp.
Tracey Donels, Service Manager for KPOST Company and original founding committee member of MRCA YCC, was gratified to see that homeowner’s enthusiastic response, knowing that the YCC’s inaugural act of community service had hit the mark. They built a wheelchair ramp and a new porch awning that Rebuilding Together Greater Dallas Executive Director Dennis Luellen had previously worried might topple over in a strong gust of wind.
“Her reaction made our day. She was confined to a wheelchair with no functioning ramp. Think how scary that had to have been for her, knowing that if there were a fire or a gas leak, she couldn’t leave on her own. We really gave her freedom back to her. It was our pleasure to build that ramp, as well as fix up her house,” said Donels, who had come up with the idea of adding a charity component to the MRCA meeting after participating in a community service project with Rebuilding Together at a national roofing show (International Roofing Expo – IRE) last February.
“Tracey looked over at me at the end of that day and he said, ‘We’ve got to do this with the MRCA and the Young Contractors Council.’ He put in a ton of work and he made it happen this week,” said Kevin Gwaltney, Diamond Roofing President (Dodge City, Kansas) and YCC Chair.
Community Service: “You Look Back And Say ‘Wow!’”
Steve Little, President of both MRCA and KPOST Company, heard how willingly the YCC members went about their tasks at the Rebuilding Together event, as if there were an intrinsic tendency to volunteer engrained in each of them. He believes that by creating opportunities for people to experience the rewards of community service, they will come to seek it out and find satisfaction waiting for them there.
“I encourage our individual commercial and residential roofing companies to go home and seek out ways to volunteer together. This proved to be an excellent team-building exercise, and, most importantly, two women received the gift of safe homes and beautiful yards just in time for the holidays,” said Little.
The YCC performed a full-service overhaul of the two properties. 45 volunteers hauled trash and debris, planted new landscaping, painted, repaired, installed security lights, rebuilt a hazardous front porch, constructed a solid wheelchair ramp, and spread a lot of love in an effort to make life better for the women who call those houses home. One of the women is a veteran who takes care of her four grandchildren often and the transformation of her backyard means to world to her and the children who will play there.
“With projects like the ones Tracey and the crew worked on, you walk away and you look back and you say, ‘Wow, look at the difference we made.’ We absolutely could not do what we do without this great orchestra of volunteers,” said Luellen. His organization, Rebuilding Together Greater Dallas, is a nonprofit committed to reaching into blighted neighborhoods and transforming the homes there. Rebuilding Together Greater Dallas has affected 300 homes with the help of just over 11,000 volunteers since its inception 12 years ago.
Volunteering Together Strengthens the Roofing Industry
The YCC’s charity project added volunteerism to this month’s Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA) 65th Annual Conference, which was already packed with 141 manufacturer and vendor booths, a full complement of educational opportunities, a brand new “Women in Roofing” initiative, and 950 roofing professionals ready to learn, network, and share their best practices. It was novel for YCC mentors and protégés to spend some of that time volunteering together, shoulder to shoulder, out in the community. They agree they reaped the benefits of working toward a common goal and that volunteerism should definitely be a component of future meetings around the country.
“When we work together, we learn more about each other. That strengthens our relationships and gives us a better atmosphere for learning and interacting,” says Gwaltney, who has already reached out to Rebuilding Together, Kansas City, in anticipation of the YCC’s community outreach project at the MRCA’s 66th annual conference next year. The committee intends to recruit even more volunteers for next year’s project since this year was so meaningful and satisfying to all.
That warm atmosphere, so intrinsic to the roofing industry, was surely felt by two grandmothers who were reminded in a spectacularly personal way, that their community cares for them.
“MRCA is a great conduit for community service projects and I look forward to many more. MRCA made a difference not only to the community, but to our colleagues and friends, who just felt good. That feeling simply produces more good deeds,” said Donels.