A simple act of charity can mean more to the ones giving than the ones receiving. That’s the case for R.L. Roofing Service foreman Jonathan Hodges and his company’s work on Michigan City’s Anthony Adams House, an emergency shelter for homeless and troubled youth.

A Michigan City News-Dispatch reporter was onsite covering the free roof installation when Hodges asked a seemingly innocent question, “Isn’t this going to be a place for homeless mothers?” After being informed he was working on a roof for a planned youth shelter, Hodges put his face in his hands. “I didn’t realize that,” Hodges said. “I’ve had my own experience with being homeless. I was a ward of the state from the time I was 5 years old. I lived in different foster homes when I was growing up, so I know all about kids being neglected. This really does hit home.”

Jason Coleman, another foreman at R.L., was more than happy to volunteer his time and skill to give Michigan City kids a secure place to call home. Like Hodges, Coleman also had a troubled youth but found a way out in the roofing business. “I used to be one of those kids,” Coleman said. “I started this job when I was 16. I was one of those teens who was at risk; but Rich (Leslie Sr.) gave me a chance, and I’ve been here ever since.”

The 14-man crew spent a day on the shelter ripping up all previous roofing, replacing any rotted or damaged decking, installing high quality underlayment, and placing brand new shingles. By Monday evening the crew was sweeping up the completed job.

Though R.L. Roofing Service took the lead by volunteering their time, labor, decking, and nails, the roof replacement was a group effort. La Porte Seamless Gutter provided new seamless gutters and downspouts, roofing manufacturer GAF supplied the shingles and roofing accessories, and City Lanes provided a free lunch to the crew.

R.L. Vice President of Operations Rich Leslie Jr. couldn’t have been more pleased with his guys. “They really stepped up and were extremely excited to do something for the community. They’re not getting paid for this. They’re taking money out of their checks this week just to be able to give back to the community that we all grew up in and love.”

The shelter’s founder Candice Nelson was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. She had hoped to have the shelter operational by Summer 2019, but major roof leaks delayed its opening. Nelson called GAF, who pointed her toward R.L. Roofing. With the new roof, Nelson hopes to have the shelter open by the end of summer 2020. “I feel so blessed,” she said, shaking her head as she watched the roofers work. “And as I’m blessed, I will be passing it on.”