Homestead resident wins free roof as part of national program

08/08/2014 3:11 PM

08/09/2014 10:35 PM

Most South Florida residents appreciate the value of a new, well-built roof, especially during hurricane season.

Carmen Torres, a widowed mother of five children and six grandchildren, took that appreciation to another level when she won a free roof through a social media campaign — despite not owning a computer.

Thanks to No Roof Left Behind, a national program that provides the framework for a local contractor to provide a new roof to someone in need, Torres’ new roof was installed July 24.

South Florida’s T&S Roofing Systems, along with No Roof Left Behind and roofing suppliers GAF and ABC Supply, donated the labor, supplies and marketing behind the campaign.

“Since the hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, the tiles on my roof were damaged,” Torres said. Her insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of repairs or of a new roof, so Torres had minor repairs done and used buckets to collect rainwater over the years.

Torres, who lives in Homestead, went to Centro Campesino Farmworker Center for help earlier this year. The agency offers community building, economic development, affordable housing and free educational programs. They helped her fill out an application for the contest, which included a photo and her story.

“I felt really happy,” she said. “I honestly didn’t think I would be eligible or that I would win.”

Nominations were accepted from February to May. Volunteers then reviewed the nominees, choosing four finalists who the public voted for at www.noroofleftbehind.com.

“I don’t have a computer. My kids are responsible for collecting most of the votes. I don’t know how they did it. I reached out to people over the phone — my daughters taught me how to text,” Torres said.

After voting ended and the winner was announced, a new roof was installed and the community celebrated with an installation party.

“I couldn’t sleep the night before. It’s been a dream come true,” Torres said.

Luis Toledo, president of T&S Roofing Systems, said their participation in the campaign is “right along the lines of what we do in the community.”

Torres won the contest with about 54 percent of the vote.

“Voters really sympathized with her situation,” Toledo said. “The contest is really trying to pinpoint a deserving family — a family in need. She was a good candidate. Her roof was damaged since 2005. She hadn’t been able to repair it. She didn’t have insurance support.”

T&S is the largest residential roofing company in Miami-Dade County — completing about 500 roofs a year. This is the first year a South Florida roofing company has participated in No Roof Left Behind’s program, and Toledo said he plans to continue doing so.

“Since we’ve been in business for about 10 years, it was really time to [increase community involvement],” Toledo said. The company also received permission from the city to install the roof over the weekend.

“We’re essentially the ones making the wheels turn,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s really a $12,000 project she got for free.”

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