For more than 40 years, Chicago’s Gateway to Learning has provided an essential service to our community: person-centered learning and vocational training for adults with intellectual challenges and developmental disabilities. Their work promotes inclusion in all aspects of life, as participants develop important life skills for at home, at work, and in the community.
The organization’s building was constructed in 1986 and had served them well, but over the past several years had been experiencing roof leaks during heavy rain or snow storms.
“Several distinct times we’ve had water actually flowing into the building, and so it would be coming down onto the filing cabinets and desks in offices,” says John Ratzenberger, Gateway to Learning’s Director of Advancement. “Obviously water damage is an issue. You can’t continue to have that, especially if it’s going to mold.”
The staff was also concerned about the impact of roof leaks on the 90 adults with disabilities that Gateway to Learning serves. Closing storage rooms or classrooms due to water damage would present problems for the organization’s day-to-day operations and the individuals who learn there. The staff was particularly concerned that the roof’s condition would eventually impact areas like the kitchen—an essential part of the building because they use the culinary arts to train adults with disabilities for employment and for independence at home.
Gateway to Learning is a nonprofit organization, so funding for a new roof presented a challenge. They patched the existing roof for as long as they could, but realized that the time had come to install a new roof system.
“We were blessed to be able to have Ridgeworth come in, and they were the best bid,” says John. “In all honesty, they were outstanding to work with during the entire process. We were using the small business improvement funds through the city to help us to get reimbursed for this project. [Ridgeworth] worked with us. They understood that we don’t have all of the finances available, so they looked for the ways to help us out, to make sure that we were going to get a product that was going to help us without necessarily being too much for what we needed. They were creative in their ways to save money, like using our parking lot to lift materials onto the roof with a crane instead of having to close off part of the street.”
Although this past winter’s harsh weather impacted the project’s timeline, Ridgeworth was able to finally install the building’s new TPO roof system. The new roof should serve Gateway to Learning for many years to come, supporting them from above, so to speak, and allowing them to focus on their important mission—and not a leaky roof.
“Ryan, Rod, and the guys on the ground here … took an interest in what we were doing here,” says John. “They respected what we were doing and tried to not be invasive … or intrusive or disruptive to any of our processes to allow us to do our business each and every day. They were absolutely wonderful to work with,” says John.
Ridgeworth Roofing is proud to have partnered with such a wonderful community organization for this project. We wish Gateway to Learning the very best as they continue their important work.