NEWORLEANS- The roofers swarmed over Gladys Willis' house, quickly stripping off the worn out shingles and tar paper.

'Santa Claus came early this year,' said Gladys with a laugh. 'Am I happy? You don't know, I done lost my appetite.'

Gladys has endured tough times. The 80-year-old diabetic's legs were amputated after they became infected when she evacuated by walking through the Katrina flood.

Then the kitchen ceiling fell during Hurricane Isaac, and water spots appeared on her bedroom ceiling - both signs the 30-year-old roof had failed.

'I said, 'Let's just get this roof done,'' said Michael Collins of Blue Orleans Construction. 'Of course we can have the fund raiser, but in my day job I'm a contractor, so let's go fix that roof.'

An emergency fund raising event was held Friday night to help Michael Collins, bar owner and contractor, recover some of the costs for Gladys' new roof. The response was huge, within $1,000 of the goal.

'People are still suffering today, and so this is our opportunity to really try to give back,' said City Council member LaToya Cantrell.

'I could definitely feel the love from the people that came to support her at the Other Bar last night, most definitely,' said fund raising organizer Charlie Barnes.

This five-member crew expects to be finished installing Gladys' new roof by Thursday, and the contractor says it will have a lifetime warranty. It has changed her life.

'We try to do what we can to help people, and so she's getting a new roof,' said Gary Prince of Orleans Roofing.

'I was glad to see them,' said Gladys. 'Looked like Christmas to me today around here.' Trinity Christian Community is coordinating fund raising to cover the cost of the roof. They can be reached at 482-7822, or through their website at

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