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Raise the Roof!

The George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center just received a major upgrade--starting at the top!

Because the original building was more than a century old, leaks and cracks in the roof have been an ongoing concern--especially around one of the two chimneys. "Thanks to a grant allocated by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, along with remarkable contributions from individual donors and supporters, one chimney has been removed and that section of the roof has been replaced," said Dr. Milton Campbell, President of the BESDF, Inc.

Sady Escalante of the Excel Roofing Company, at 447 Marion Drive, in Wilmington, NC 28412, came to the rescue. After a thorough inspection, he recommended removing the chimney itself, which is not in use and which is a source of leaks and a risk factor for further damage to the building. This past month, his crew, including Miguel Aipop supported by Elvis Alvarado along with four others, disassembled the chimney and exposed the underlying rafters, several of which were weak or deteriorating. They replaced and strengthened the structure, then installed a new roof surface, and later even came back to repaint the entire area to protect their work from any weather damage.

Excel's capable office manager, Emily Leonard, coordinated the lengthy process of examining, bidding and implementing the renovations. George Henry White Center project leader, Vince Spaulding, and the Center's superintendent, Ocie Jones, worked closely with Excel's team to ensure that the work was done in the most effective way.

"I was very impressed by Mr. Escalante, who overcame enormous odds to gain his education, first getting a GED while working full time, then getting into North Carolina State University where he subsequently earned his Bachelors of Science in Engineering," said Vince. "He represents the same kind of professional excellence and leadership that is George Henry White's legacy. His crew were outstanding, and a delight to work with. They understood the history and the importance of the center, as a significant historical landmark and as a thriving community center, and they worked hard to ensure it will continue to stand the test of time."

"We are so glad that prominent local businesses like Excel can add their skills and talents to help strengthen the facility," said Vince. "Through their efforts, so many people in Bladen and Columbus County will continue to be served with programs never before available. We are proud to work hand in hand with such outstanding companies, and we are grateful that the Reynolds Foundation made this possible."

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