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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Diane Hawkins has been living in her East St. Louis home for over 20 years. At the beginning of 2020, her roof began leaking in several different spots, and water from the rain and natural elements would seep into her home.

She feared she would have to move and start all over somewhere else if she couldn’t get it fixed. Little did she know this Christmas Eve would be the start of a new beginning.

Despite the poor condition of her roof, Diane did not want to move. She says she worked hard to own her home. And the same way she fought to get it, she would fight just as hard to keep it.

She says she prayed day in and day out for God to provide a way for her to afford a new roof. She worked hard to save money but always seemed to come up short.

“Every time I tried to save money something else started breaking down, and I just didn’t have [the money],” she said.

Nathaniel McCloud, owner of Nathaniel’s Roofing & More, has been active in the East St. Louis community for 27 years. He met Diane four years ago when he was running to become a member of the precinct committee.

Every year, he donates toys or adopts a family for the holidays. Each day he passed Diane’s house and that bright blue tarp was still on her roof. Nate knew he could help, so he called in a favor days before Christmas.

“She’s a really great person. An advocate. Someone that’s been helping the community. Everybody knows her and everybody loves her,” Nate said. “I called my manufacturing company ABC Roofing and I told them what I had going on and they were willing to help.”

ABC Roofing donated all of the supplies he would need to give Diane a brand new roof. Once he had the materials, Nate gathered his team, picked a day, and waited for Diane to go to work. Once she pulled off, they hopped out of their cars and started installing her new roof. They finished in six hours and covered it back up with the tarp so Diane wouldn’t know anything happened when she got home from work that day.

They surprised her on Christmas Eve with the news.

Once Diane realized what was going on, she broke down and tears and started thanking Nate and God for answering her prayers.

Nate says a new roof would have cost her nearly $3,000. Because of him and his team at ABC Roofing, she got it for free.

“…Thank you! Thank you! I can’t thank you enough from the bottom of my heart,” Diane said. “I can go in my house now and I don’t have to worry about when it’s going to rain or what part it’s going to rain in.”

For Nate, he was just happy to help his dear friend and put a smile on her face for Christmas.