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Giving her family shelter

Charity: Widowed mother gets a new roof courtesy of Great Way Roofing and Single Mothers Outreach

Posted: December 23, 2010 9:07 p.m.
Updated: December 24, 2010 4:55 a.m.

DaAnne Smith of Single Mothers Outreach and Ruth Tofighi-Mendoza embrace outside Tofighi-Mendoza’s Saugus home. Tofighi-Mendoza, a client of the nonprofit, was the recipient of a brand new roof from Great Way Roofing.

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Christmas came early this year for Ruth Tofighi-Mendoza.

The single mother of two teenaged boys was delighted to receive a brand new roof on Dec. 13 for her Saugus home, donated by Great Way Roofing, which has locations in Newhall and Camarillo.

She had been patching her dilapidated roof for years, with little success.

Tofighi-Mendoza was growing increasingly concerned about how her  home would fare with a forecasted season of heavy rain set to begin within the next day.

Now, she no longer has to worry.

“It’s unbelievable for me and the kids,” Tofighi-Mendoza said as her voice choked with emotion and she wiped back tears of happiness.

“We’ve had really bad luck, and this experience makes me very thankful,” the grateful mother continued
Reaching out to single mothers

Tofighi-Mendoza, a widow, is one of 450 clients from Single Mothers Outreach, a nonprofit organization that serves single parents in the Santa Clarita Valley by providing resources, referrals, training, food and clothing.

When Great Way Roofing was looking for a family to donate a new roof to, they were led to Single Mothers Outreach by the office of Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, who was on hand to watch as the new roof was being placed.

“There are so many groups in the Santa Clarita Valley, but we’ve had a relationship with Single Mothers Outreach for several years and we know they do a great job of finding families that need assistance,” Smyth said.

Smyth was impressed by Great Way Roofing’s generosity. “When you know businesses are struggling because of the economy and yet they’re still willing to help families, that speaks volumes about them personally. It really shows the spirit of this community,” Smyth said.

Rod Menzel, founder and chief executive officer of Great Way Roofing, was raised by a single mother, so it was a natural fit.

“I know how hard they work and how tough it can be, especially right now,” Menzel said. “This is a great cause. It’s neat to see someone so excited and appreciative.”

The value of the roof was approximately $8,000, according Menzel. Shingles were donated by H & R Roofing Supply, and Honeycut Roof Co. tore down the existing roof.

“Because everyone gave a little, we were able to achieve a lot,” Menzel said.

Since most of their clientele live in apartments, Tofighi-Mendoza was the top contender for the donation, according to DaAnne Smith, executive director of Single Mothers Outreach.

“Hers was in the worst shape. Ruth is the one we really wanted to help,” Smith said. “She’s just such a hard-working, humble person.”
 
One mother’s story
Last October, Tofighi-Mendoza, who was already divorced, was hit with a double whammy when her former spouse died of a heart attack, leaving the homemaker with sole responsibility for their two sons Alan, 19, and David, 15.

“We weren’t expecting it. No one does,” said Tofighi-Mendoza, a full-time student at College of the Canyons. “It was tough before, but it’s not the same as being alone. We were still close.”

Not to mention the financial impact, as Smith illustrated.

“Her income is now basically survivor’s benefits,” Smith said. “When you go from a two-income home to a one-income home, with kids, it’s absolutely devastating. A lot of parents do have the luxury of family to lean on. We become their family.”

Tofighi-Mendoza had been coming to Single Mothers Outreach since 2006, attending seminars, getting clothes for her sons, and becoming actively involved in any way she could.

“They always say you have any angel watching over you. Single Mothers Outreach has helped me more than I can ever say,” Tofighi-Mendoza said. “You know there are good people around, but I didn’t know where to find them before.”

Beyond the immediate resources, providing support and connection is a vital role of Single Mothers Outreach, Smith said.
“At first, many of our clients are in crisis. They’re newly divorced, unemployed or fleeing an abuser,” Smith said. “But it’s not just financial help we provide. This is a community for single moms. We’re a resource for everyone, even if it’s just emotionally.”

That means single dads, too. Single Mothers Outreach has four male clients at the moment, and its overall waiting list is growing ever longer as demand increases.

“We can’t keep up with the demand,” Smith said. “I’ve been on a crusade to educate the Santa Clarita Valley that we have more than 1,600 single-parent families here. That’s based on a 2000 census, so we know there’s more.”

The surprise
A few days before Great Way Roofing arrived to her home, Tofighi-Mendoza was told the company would just be doing a much-needed patch over her garage, which had leaked in various places throughout the years.

Like many single parents, Tofighi-Mendoza was very resourceful and tried to fix the problem herself, going through many gallons of patching material and also trying to fill in spots with gravel.

When the work crews began ripping off old material from all over her roof in the morning, Tofighi-Mendoza asked Menzel what was happening.

“It was nice to tell her we were replacing her whole roof; that it was a Christmas present,” Menzel said. “It brought a tear to her eye and mine, too. You couldn‘t ask for someone more appreciative.”

Hours later, as film crews from KCAL 9 interviewed her, Tofighi-Mendoza was still teary-eyed and excited.

“This is like Christmas, my birthday and winning the lottery all rolled into one,” she said. “To have the whole roof fixed was something I could never dream of. It couldn’t be better than that.”

For more information on Single Mothers Outreach, visit www.singlemothersoutreach.org or call (661) 288-0117.

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