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Changing Lives Through Community Service

Volunteers celebrate after completing repairs during IRE's Community Service Day in 2020
Some of the individuals involved with IRE's Community Service Day joined RoofersCoffeeShop's Coffee Conversations webinar to discuss the event's importance, impact and more. 'It's by far my favorite day of the year,' IRE Senior Conference Manager Brandi McElhaney said.

RoofersCoffeeShop held its first Coffee Conversations webinar of the new year on Jan. 13 to discuss the International Roofing Expo and the event's annual Community Service Day.

The premier roofing and exteriors event takes place Feb. 1-3 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans—the same city where the first Community Service Day occurred.

The 13th annual Community Service Day is slated for Jan. 31—a day before the show. 

"It is by far my favorite day of the year," said IRE Senior Conference Manager Brandi McElhaney, a native of the Big Easy. "We're able to literally change people's lives."

McElhaney, along with NRCA CEO Reid Ribble, Rebuilding Together New Orleans Director William Stoudt, Bill Bellico, VP of marketing and inside sales at Sika USA and IRE Senior Marketing Manager Meggan Spehar, joined host Heidi Ellsworth for a nearly hour-long discussion regarding giving back.

"The service day is a great opportunity to get out see New Orleans, outside of just the convention center and make a true life-changing impact for homeowners," Stoudt said.

Material and labor are donated as volunteers provide life-changing repairs for residents, who, according to Stoudt, "are all elderly, disabled veterans or are single heads of household with young children—and they all make less than $30,000 a year, typically."

"That says a lot about our roofing community," McElhaney said. "They give back. They roll up their sleeves, they come in a day early.

"Every single Rebuilding Together for 13 years now has told me you guys don't just come here for photo ops," she continued. "You're truly putting in the work and making a huge difference. It's so amazing."

This year, volunteers will be performing exterior work on two area homes and building a fence at a third, McElhaney noted. 

After coffee and a small breakfast, a safety meeting will be conducted "and then we roll up our sleeves and get going," she said, adding that PPE will also be provided.

IRE will be giving $10,000 to Rebuilding Together New Orleans. Additionally, Sika Sarnafil has provided $15,000 to Rebuilding Together New Orleans. Other sponsors include GAF, who is replacing the roof on four homes in the area, Carlisle, CentiMark, Damato Enterprises, ICP Building Group and OMG. 

Donations will be collected during the keynote, to be delivered by Ribble, who waived his speaking fee, which will go towards Community Service Day.

For the keynote, "I'll spend some time talking about generosity and giving because that's kind of a core principle and value of my wife and me," said Ribble, a former member of the House of Representatives and former president of his own roofing company for three-plus decades. "So, I'm looking forward to that because it's a beautiful tie-in to the community service event."

The efforts come a few months after Hurricane Ida caused destruction throughout NOLA. 

"It really resonates with me because of my own experience going through [Hurricane] Katrina and the impact on roofing contractors," Ribble said. "I mean, that said that was a major, major storm, unlike anything that we had seen in my lifetime in the United States, and the sheer devastation of it all was quite shocking."

Sika Sarnifal has been the primary sponsor of the Community Service Day every year since its inception and this will be the fifth year that Bellico himself is participating.

"It's literally probably the best day of the year I have," he said. "You have people from across the industry—competitors—working together to give back to the local community and it speaks volumes."

"It doesn't matter if you're the president of the company or CEO of this huge manufacturer or a secretary, you're next to each other working on a project together and collaborating," McElhaney added.

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