N.C. women roofers put aside political differences to get the job done

Women roofers of Rutherford Housing Partnership
CBS News

(CBS News) RUTHERFORDTON, N.C. - So much this election year has been about one side tearing down the other. But there are some folks out there who are doing something a lot more constructive.

These Americas would not only impress the framers but the plumbers and tilers as well.

Down a red-dirt road west of Charlotte, you can follow the sound of hammers and find a story about setting aside differences and focusing on service.

Jones walks through her house showing off the cracks in her ceiling.

"This one is a pretty bad one up here," she said.

The roof leaked, but since her husband died two and a half years ago she had no money to fix it.

She made one phone call.

In a matter of days, a group of volunteers showed up, armed with toolbelts and enthusiasm.

"Raise your hand if you had roofing experience before you started doing this work?" one woman asked excitedly.

Only one woman raised her hand. The group laughed.

They're known as the Women Roofers. They've repaired roofs for free for the past 10 years.

They have one rule: What's said on the roof stays on the roof. They've only rejected one volunteer.

"The only one we never invited back was 'hand me a hammer sugar. Hand me a hammer sweetie.' We never invited him back," Nell Bovender said.

Bovender of the Rutherford Housing Partnership organized the group and manages the donations for supplies.

"We only help people that make less than half of the median income," she said. "That's a family of two makes less than $20,000 a year. That's not a lot of money."

Bovender said they have 135 people on the waiting list.

Rutherford County's unemployment rate is 14.6 percent, the third highest in North Carolina. When the factories closed, jobs moved overseas. Most of these volunteers are professional woman, including a nurse, a small business owner and retirees.

Some of the volunteers said that if they could talk to the two men who want to be the next President, they would ask them to come roof with them.

"Take a lesson from what we do because I work alongside with this group of women - some of the most conservative Republicans, some of the most liberal Democrats - and we're working together for a common good," Bovender said. "Why can't the two sides find the common ground to make a difference?"

This group made a difference for Madge Jones.

"Wow! It's amazing!" she said.

She said these women were her heroes.

The philosophy here is pretty simple. Pick a problem and fix it.

"I love you," Jones said.