Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September News from the ROOF Tops

News from the ROOF Tops

Roof goes Live!!

This week our website officially launches. ROOF’s site, donated by iMarc, LLC in Newburyport, will allow supporters, funders and advocates of ROOF instant access to news, events and information regarding our progress. iMarc’s incredibly talented team of designers and strategists worked with our Board for months to develop, design and build the site. iMarc is a privately held integrated web development and interactive marketing firm that creates powerful, engaging websites.


On October 21, 2011, ROOF will host The Port Follies: A Politically Incorrect Variety Show at The Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport. The evening offers local politicians a different kind of stage to showcase their "other sides" during this election season. Area mayoral and city council candidates throwing their hats in the ring this November will impress the audience with their lesser-known talents — singing, dancing, acting and more -- while other local notables sit and judge them from the sidelines. It promises to be an uproarious good time with plenty of surprise guests. Imagine, all this fun and all for a great cause! For more information or to purchase tickets, contact The Firehouse Center at or 978-462-7336.

Program News!

ROOF Over Head Collaborative, Inc. has made great strides in 2011. In its efforts, ROOF has received immeasurable support from a dedicated Board of Directors, a social services agency equipped to handle client issues, advocates and compassionate funders, who believe in ROOF’s mission and recognize the vital need in our community for transitional housing for at-risk and homeless families.

As you know, ROOF purchased its first property in June after receiving two major gifts from local institutions. This two bedroom condominium in an Amesbury neighborhood soon became home to a family of three. The Board and volunteers came together to ready the unit and make it a home for ROOF’s first family for the next two years. The family of three collected their belongings from their one room, one bed, 200 square foot motel room in Salisbury and moved in. They have been working with our partners at Community Action, Inc. and other social service providers and, two months later, both parents are gainfully employed and their son has begun his senior year at Newburyport High School, looking toward college. If not for the roof over their heads, this family, who had appeared to have exhausted all other available remedies, would be homeless and are now on the path to self-sufficiency.

We are proud to announce that ROOF leased its second unit in Newburyport in August. A local landlord who supports ROOF’s mission partnered with us in this lease. Our second family moved in on September 1, 2011. This move was not without issue. The family was in the process of being evicted from their apartment in Amesbury. On their drive to Newburyport their only car, a 1993 Subaru with an oil leak, was impounded which set off a series of events. The daughter needed to begin school on Monday and had no transportation. The mother, who works two jobs, was unable to get to work. The family had no money to get the car out of the impound lot. ROOF worked with CAI and local faith groups and community foundations to cobble together the funds to release the car, register, inspect and insure the car and fix the oil leak. The community came together to support a family in need. Without ROOF, this family too, would be homeless.

We will continue in our mission to provide supportive housing to at-risk members of our community with the help of supporters and funders.

Thank you for your continued dedication and support!

Stay tuned for more news from the ROOF Tops!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

First Home

Susanne Cameron and Kerri Perry, Co-Chairs of ROOF

As appeared in Newburyport Daily News, June 24, 2011

Group opens first home for homeless

AMESBURY — Volunteers worked on the condominium until it glowed. When the Roof Over Head Collaborative recently handed over the keys to a local couple and their teenage son, it represented a milestone in the group's mission to provide homeless families in Greater Newburyport with transitional housing.

"It took a village to pull it together," said Kerri Perry, co-chairwoman of ROOF, a local, privately funded nonprofit organization. "I couldn't believe the good of others. I was shocked by what was accomplished by just asking."

In the days leading up to the move, volunteers spared no detail in the two-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot unit situated in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance to downtown Amesbury. Someone mounted a door to cover an open closet. Another ran out to buy blinds.

Newburyport resident Bill Abbott, 86, oversaw the weeklong renovation in 90-degree heat. Neighbors ordered pizza for everyone, while former ROOF Chairwoman Norma Beit and her husband, Harvey, planted flowers outside.

Items such as mattress pads, a vacuum cleaner, paper products and garbage bags came from local donors. Local Realtor Nancy Purcell, who closed on the property in mid-May, donated her commission to the cause.

"I don't think anybody anticipated having a property ready in this short period of time," said Michael Jones, president of the Institution for Savings, which contributed $50,000 to ROOF last year. "It seemed like everybody stepped up when it was needed most."

ROOF was founded in 2009 by a group of retired residents who were determined to help the nearly 150 children and 300 adults in the region who are homeless, according to the Salisbury-based human services organization Pettengill House.

Since Perry, an attorney, and Susanne Cameron, a housing and community development professional, were elected co-chairwomen in January, the effort to find properties to purchase or rent in Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury accelerated. ROOF intends to move two more families into rentals in the fall and will gradually add a mix of condominiums and rentals to its roster. The organization has so far raised $150,000.

In June, less than a month after the closing, Perry picked up the mother and the son at Knotty Pine Motel on Beach Road in Salisbury and drove them to their new home. The father, an unemployed construction worker and avid walker, footed the distance.

"It's absolutely wonderful, the whole entire program," said the mother who asked not to be named. "It saved our lives; it saved our family's life. I feel so blessed. I never thought it'd be possible to go from losing everything to being able to provide again."

Families are referred to ROOF by other social service organizations and have to undergo a rigorous assessment. Rent is based on income, and selected families also have to agree to budget counseling, professional improvement classes and other measures to take control of their lives. They can stay no longer than two years before they have to make room for a new family, Cameron said.

"It's a difficult conversation to have, to let them know that there are all these expectations on the line and that the organizations we're working with are watching closely," Cameron said. "They have to own it; otherwise, it's not for them."

"This is an opportunity to work with people from a holistic perspective," said Pam Wool, director of Community Services at Community Action Inc., in Haverhill, whose Amesbury branch coordinates the ROOF program. "It's really exciting to see people respond to people in need in the community. They appreciate that poverty is not just a quick fix."

For the family, things fell apart five months ago when the rent dramatically went up on their Newburyport apartment at the same time as their car died, the father lost his job, and the mother was displaced and forced to take a lesser-paying position. After four months of doubling up with friends, they checked into the Salisbury motel.

Despite all the comforts of their new home, where the family enjoyed homemade stuffed chicken breasts Monday night, they have their sights set on finding a permanent place to live.

Said the mother, "I want to spend the rest of my life giving back to these people."

Monday, May 9, 2011

News from the ROOF tops

We’ve had an exciting Spring at ROOF!

We are proud to announce the acquisition of the first ROOF property! Thanks to Committee Members Nancy Purcell of Stoneridge Properties and Leslie Eckholt for identifying a 2-bedroom condominium within walking distance to downtown Amesbury! The unit is lovely and will soon be home to an area family in need. We would also like to thank our funders. This important milestone would not be possible without your support.

ROOF is working with our partners at Community Action, Inc. to identify families to participate in the ROOF program. CAI and ROOF, along with other area service providers, will identify families who have an income and a plan to get up and out of crisis within a two year time period. Providing stable, safe, and decent housing for up to two years will eliminate the stress of finding a suitable living situation and will allow the family to focus on education, job training, and other skills required to stabilize their lives.

In other news, we are proud to announce a new partnership with iMarc, who has generously donated their time and talent to build the new ROOF website. Founded in 1997, iMarc LLC, is a privately held integrated web development and interactive marketing firm located in historic downtown Newburyport, MA. iMarc combines creative brand-building power with leading software development to create powerful, engaging web sites that combine creative design, leading technologies and rigorous optimization to build strong brands, and improve relationships with customers, employees and partners. iMarc is committed to supporting non-profits and has extensive experience developing websites for such organizations as Wells Reserve, Seacoast Science Center, EcoHealth Alliance, and Newport Restoration Foundation. For more information, please visit or contact Kim Jackson, Marketing Coordinator, at 978-462-8848. Thank you iMarc! Stay tuned for the launch of the new website later this spring.

Finally, we are very proud to announce a gift in the amount of $30,000 from the Moseley Foundation! The grant will be used by ROOF for property acquisition and rental subsidies for our rental program. A special thanks to Bob and Kay Howe for their passion and support.

One final item: We are always looking for household items for program families and we will post our immediate needs from time-to-time. Please keep us in mind before you dispose of furniture or small household appliances, paint, cleaning products, etc. We will put these items to good use.

Thanks to all for your help and support!!

Susanne and Kerri
Co-Chairs, ROOF Over Head Collaborative

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ROOF Changes and Partnerships

Greetings ROOF supporters!

Board Changes

ROOF started the year with several significant changes. First, ROOF founder, Norma Beit, has stepped down as ROOF’s Chairperson. Her amazing drive and leadership brought ROOF to life, raising awareness about the mission and procuring funding to start this new organization. While she will not run day to day operations, Norma will chair the Fundraising Committee along with her esteemed husband, Harvey. The Board thanks Norma for her vision and leadership in the creation of ROOF, utilizing her vast fund-raising experience and expertise, and looks forward to her continued service to the organization.

Board members Kerri Perry and Susanne Cameron have been elected Co-Chairs and will work to take ROOF to a new and exciting place. Both are members of the communities ROOF serves and bring a wealth of knowledge to the Board. Kerri Perry is a real estate attorney who is a member of two other local boards. Susanne Cameron has spent her career in housing and community development. In addition to serving on many boards and committees throughout New England, she was also recently appointed by Newburyport Mayor Holaday to serve on the Newburyport Affordable Housing Trust.

New Partnerships

ROOF is only part of the solution to helping homeless families reach their goals. Community Action Inc., a nonprofit multi-service organization based in Haverhill, with an office in Amesbury, has stepped up to partner with ROOF. The mission of CAI is to empower individuals, families, and communities to overcome poverty through education, training, advocacy, prevention, and services to meet human needs. CAI offers hope and assistance with respect and understanding. This winning team approach will ensure ROOF families a positive path to independence and pride. We are thrilled to welcome CAI as a partner and member to the ROOF family.

ROOF will continue to work with other area nonprofit social service providers to enhance existing programs with its housing programs.

Program Changes.

The ROOF Board also went back to the drawing board to implement an approach that will have the greatest impact housing homeless families and families at risk of homelessness.

The changes are two-fold:

1. ROOF will accomplish its goals by purchasing property in its service area of Newburyport, Amesbury, and Salisbury. ROOF will own the properties and make units available to qualified families.

2. ROOF will also lease rental properties from local landlords. The units will be available to qualified families.

In both cases, families must pay for a portion of the rent while maintaining an active status with the nonprofit partner working to improve their education, job training, and other skills to help them to get up and out of crisis.

We look forward to our continued and productive work. Stay tuned for event announcements and fundraising news!