updated 01/23/2013 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/24/2013 AT 1:05 PM ET
When she heard about a member of her church congregation who couldn’t afford to have her roof fixed, Nell Bovender had an idea.
It was a Sunday in October 2002, she remembers, and “ ‘Make a Difference’ day [at the church] was coming up. I said, ‘Why don’t we redo a roof?’ ”
Inspired, the husbands and wives in her Sunday school class quickly agreed. But when it came time to do the project, only classmates Lori Herrick, 48, and Susie Kernodle, 64, showed up.
“We expected Billy Honeycutt (the parishioner in charge of the project) to say, ‘Let’s wait for the guys,’ ” recalls Herrick, of Rutherfordton, N.C. “What he said was, ‘Pick up your hammers and get to work!’ “
Ten years and 67 roofs later, the all-volunteer group of 80 moms, grandmothers and widows called the Women Roofers is still going strong, repairing and replacing roofs for the elderly and disabled in and around Forest City, N.C.
Founded by Herrick and Kernodle after that first project, the group pools their own resources to purchase supplies and fix roofs free of charge.
And they’re having a ball doing it: A typical repair takes a day, which leaves a lot of time for girl talk.
“I’ve often said our grandmothers used to do quilting bees,” says Bavender, 59, “and that’s what we’re doing up there on the roof.”
It’s especially satisfying to see the fruits of their labor after a hard day’s work, adds Herrick.
“Besides being a mother, this is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” she says.
One grateful homeowner is Irenabell MacAdoo, 74, who says her Forest City, N.C., house was sprouting leaks everywhere before the ladies got to work.
Says MacAdoo: “I don’t know what I would have done without them.”
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