What motivates a true “giver” and how do you spot one? In our efforts to identify and spotlight businesses that are both sacrificial and authentic in their community spirit and generosity, we’ve noticed three common traits:
1. Deep-seated Gratitude: Many philanthropists have themselves experienced need or suffered years of deprivation on their path to success, and "give back" to thank the community that helped them.
2. Longevity: Giving is integrally woven into the company's story, sometimes over decades.
3. Humility: Far from hugging the limelight, it’s often impossible to find a pre-COVID photo of a business owner.
In every one of these categories, Steve Gotschi, owner of DryHome Roofing & Siding, Inc., fits the bill. When he was 19, he found himself homeless. He began roofing in the early 1980’s to support his family, making $6/hour. After forming his own company, his big break came when he put on a roof for a client who published the community home-owners association newsletter. Delighted with the job, she featured him, and DryHome took off. Thirty years later, the business has been featured as the national Roofing Contractor of the Year from thousands in his business.
Nineteen years ago, Steve responded to the need of his son’s Cub Scout troop to install a new roof. Every year since, DryHome has donated a free roof, materials included, to a homeowner or non-profit in need. Such jobs typically run anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, but for Steve, it’s not about the size of the project but the size of the hearts of his recipients and those who nominate them.
He relies on the credibility of the nominators and a simple test for whether the recipient is genuinely needy. Beyond that, “it’s really just about having a compelling story,” he admitted. And there have been some great ones.
- Burnette "Bernie" Cline was an 85-year-old and resident of Alexandria, Virginia since 1956. He was nominated by RPJ Housing, which repairs houses for needy residents. “They don’t do roofs,” Steve said, “so we stepped in.”
- Last year’s recipient was Mia Fleming of Leesburg, a legally blind resident who gives voice and piano lessons at Ida Lee Park. Blessed with “an angelic soprano voice,” she’s sung in many benefit concerts and local church performances and gives lectures on classical music and opera.
Nominations are accepted in November, and roofs typically are installed in December. Despite the fact that COVID quarantines have put a damper on contracts this year, Steve has no plans to defer his donation – it’s actually his “favorite time in the whole year.” Well – that, and the annual “Finish Lyme” race that he has organized for the past decade.
That charity race, which over nine years has raised more than $450,000 to combat the disease, was to have celebrated its 10th annual running this May, but will have to wait until next year. It's important to cite Steve’s involvement because, well, it’s one of the very few times you’ll ever catch him on camera.
DryHome Roofing & Siding Inc., 45921 Maries Road, Suite 100, Sterling, VA 20166, 703-230-ROOF (7663), http://dryhome.com