Try to imagine what it must be like to fear the rain. Not to be inconvenienced by rain, or annoyed to the point that you write a silly update on your Facebook page about how you just washed your truck — but to actually stress out when a forecaster says that thunderstorms are expected tonight.
This is what it’s like for Gloria Diaz, 74. She lives in a small house on the West Side that — up until two weeks ago — had holes in the roof. It had been that way for at least 10 years. One year, she saved $2,000 and hired a repairman to do the work, but the leaks returned shortly after.
Every time it rains, Diaz, who is raising her 10-year-old granddaughter by herself, gets out the buckets.
“It drip in two spots,” Diaz said looking up toward the stains in the ceiling. “I don’t know how come the other one over there stopped. Maybe (the foundation) shifted?”
Two weeks ago, Diaz, who asked not to be photographed, was visited by more than a dozen student volunteers from Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. The group was there to fix Diaz’s roof under the guidance of Blueprint Ministries, a local Christian-based nonprofit that last year repaired more than 50 roofs mostly in the near West Side and East Side.
Blueprint Ministries director Dee Dee Sedgwick was in Diaz’s living room recently while the students were on the roof replacing old shingles and hammering in the new ones.
“We had put on 35 roofs during the summer (last year),” Sedgwick said to Diaz. She wanted to ensure Diaz that of the 35 roofs worked on, only one leaked. So they went back and repaired that one a second time. “You remember we had that really hard rain?”
“When it was raining, raining, raining — yeah,” Diaz said in a tone that suggests she experienced the downpour differently than most people.
Segdwick estimates that the job in Diaz’s home would have cost between $7,000 and $8,000 if Diaz could afford to hire a professional.
Andrew Wermelskirchen, middle school pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, hugs Dee Dee Segdwick, executive director of Blueprint Ministries, at the site of a recent home repair. Victoria Uribe / Folo Media
For Diaz, the week the Highland Park UMC kids came to her home to fix her roof was a long time coming. The problem has worsened over the years. And when Diaz finally became aware of Blueprint Ministries, she applied. That was four years ago.
“I have patience,” Diaz said. “What else can I do? Just wait.
“Since you don’t have the money or the means or the ways to do it yourself, all you can do is wait. What can you do? And I’m grateful. Very grateful. Very grateful for these people to come out and help out.”
She couldn’t wrap her head around why the students — mostly in the middle school — would travel all the way to the West Side of San Antonio to help her out.
“Instead of taking their Spring Break to do nothing and play video games, they want to come and meet folks like you and folks like us and do something constructive,” Bobby Contreras, program director at Blueprint Ministries, told Diaz. “That’s why they’re here.”
“It’s kind of a humbling experience because it makes you realize what you take for granted,” said Rachel Rogers, 17, a high school junior in the Highland Park UMC youth group. “Like, I go to bed every single night under a roof that I don’t have to worry about. And this lady, who knows how long she’s had a leaking roof.”
Since Segdwick founded Blueprint Ministries in 2009, the organization has repaired about 250 roofs, she estimates.
This article was originally published by the H.E. Butt Foundation’s Folo Media initiative in 2017.