Free Roof Repair Drives Cyclist’s Tri-State Tour
NEW YORK—As noon rays flared onto Times Square Tuesday, Sylvia Guner spent her 75th birthday waiting for a chubby Italian-American man to finish the last phase of his lone, 530-mile, tri-state, bike tour.
Chuck Anania, 39, the cyclist, is the founder of Roof4Roof—a roofing company that uses a portion of its proceeds to fix needy families’ roofs for free, in the United States, Latin America, and Africa.
Roofs Close to Home
Sylvia Guner’s lives in Passaic, N.J. The roof on her home has been leaking for more than 20 years.
“I’m a poor woman, I have always been poor, I never had any money to get that fixed,” Guner said.
Her house has six rooms on the ground floor, and six rooms upstairs. All 12 ceilings were destroyed from long-term leakage. “I’ve lost a lot of rental income, I can’t rent it out due to the condition of the place,” she said.
The furnace has been broken for years, so they use an electric heater during cold weather. But an electric heater is not enough to combat the chill of snow-cold water leaking from a dilapidated roof.
Before Guner’s husband passed away, he used his income to hire roofers for $200 per visit. Local roofers visited four times to fix the problem, but it was never completely fixed until this May, when Guner found Roof4Roof’s number.
Anania personally visited her home the same day Guner placed the phone call. He told her it was impossible to patch the roof; it needed to be fully replaced. He came back three weeks later with a new blue roof.
A roof replacement on a residential home typically costs $2,000 to $3,000, Anania said. He uses 25–35 percent of the money he makes from his roofing company to donate free roofs to those who cannot afford them.
During the installation, Guner’s 87-year-old neighbor reprimanded them for getting dust and dirt on her property. Although the construction only took three days, Anania placed large cloth covers over the neighbor’s lawn and house.
“I never thought men worked like that,” Guner said. “Not a speck of dust was there when they left.”
Since 2010, Anania has fixed around 100 roofs for low-income homes. Many of the installments went to homes overseas. He recently decided to start an initiative to restore more roofs in the tri-state area. But there was a problem. Who needs a roof? And where do you live?
For many Americans like Guner, roof damage is a serious problem, but it is not nearly as widespread as in other parts of the world.
Although organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and local churches have referred families to Roof4Roof, the waiting list of people to help is getting smaller.
500 Miles for 500 Roofs
Anania embarked on his 15-day bike journey, 530 miles across New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, to personally spread the word about the roofing project.
“I didn’t think he could do it,” joked Mark Macias, Roof4Roof’s communications manager. “But he’s such a positive person. I call him my mentor even though he’s younger than me.”
So far, Anania has received 18 calls from people who need roof replacements, but cannot afford them. Six more people have called wanting estimates for roofing repairs, and Anania is expecting more calls in the coming days.
Anania’s wife, Claudia, stays at home with their two children—Michaela, 5, and Christopher 3.
“Chuck donates too much money,” she joked. “But I’m proud that he has such a beautiful heart. … It’s a good thing, so why not?”
As a child, he and his three siblings were raised by their single mother. His father was incarcerated for a large part of his childhood.
“We didn’t have very much growing up, but I always found the need to help those less fortunate than us,” Anania said. “No matter how bad you have it, there is always someone else who has it worse off than you do.”
Anania started his bike tour in Trenton on July 24, and traveled through more than 130 communities in the tri-state area.
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