When the holiday season rolls around, people think about presents, parties and family get-togethers.
But there are those who do not have resources for even necessities like shelter.
It was at a leadership team meeting at G. Fedale Roofing and Siding when members realized that they have helped a lot of individuals who could not afford housing get a roof over their heads.
The business is owned and operated by three brothers, Glenn, Adam, and Allen Fedale. It has focused on charitable giving as one of its core values since they began in 2002 and decided they wanted to do something more consistently for their community.
That is when Roof Benefiting Individuals program (RBI), now known as Roofs from the Heart Foundation, was born.
“We wanted to do something proactive,” said Andy Hudson, the chief operating officer. “We could somehow put the word out there and give one roof away.”
After pairing with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the company was able to spread the word and ended up receiving over 400 applications and nominations this past summer. Applicants were narrowed to three finalists and their stories were posted on the company’s Facebook page. The nominee with the most shares, likes and comments on their story would win the contest.
The winners were Sophia Denisio, an ambulance worker in Philadelphia diagnosed with colon cancer who needs Home Care Assistance; Erin Ryan, a mother of two who just lost her husband to Ewing sarcoma; and Nancy Lemus, a mother of a disabled 11-year-old boy.
Lemus, from New Castle County, wrote G. Fedale telling her story. She cares for her son, Christopher, and his health issues led her to quit her job.
“I lost 80 percent of my income and ended up having really bad credit because of it,” said Lemus. “It took me seven years to recover.”
Originally, Lemus saw on Facebook that she did not win, but later was told that all three finalists had won. Caring for her son has been her biggest priority and the roof was last on her list of things to try and fix, she said.
“It was something I did not have to worry about, because I don’t have a penny for anything,” said Lemus. “Now I know my child has a safe home to live in.”
The people at G. Fedale treated her like any paying customer, said Lemus. She signed a contract for zero dollars, was given the same choices as any other customer, high-end shingles, and a 50-year warranty.
Lemus spread the word about G. Fedale and how fortunate she was for winning. She told a friend, Diana Bandak, and encouraged her to apply for the next contest.
Lemus was a previous caregiver to Bandak’s sister, Lily, who has multiple sclerosis and is a quadriplegic. Now Bandak is the primary caregiver of Lily and their mother who suffers from stage seven Alzheimer’s.
Bandak and her family have lived in their Newark home for 50 years. She moved to California for work and brought her mother and her sister out there for a few years until the house came back up for sale. They then decided to move back to their family home because they missed Delaware, said Bandak.
She is now on an unpaid leave of absence from her job working with adults with disabilities in California and spends her time caring for her mother and sister. One day her roof began to leak, and after receiving estimates that she could not afford, she wrote to G. Fedale asking for help.
With the assistance of the community and a network of previous businesses and employers, the Bandak family was awarded the free roof for the fall cycle of the program.
“The company is all about family,” said Bandak. “They do so much for the community because of how fortunate they are and I could not be more grateful.”