Thanks to ‘Raise the Roof’ volunteers

Editor’s note: The following letter is in reference to the Saturday, Aug. 24, “Raise the Roof: A Party on Historic Rooftops,” which helped raise funds for the restoration of the roof of the Frank Lloyd Wright Laurent House in Rockford. The Laurent House will open as a museum in 2014. The Aug. 24 event featured a rooftop tour of four historic Rockford buildings: the Richardson Building, the Rockford Trust Building, the News Tower Building and the Prairie Street Brewhouse.

Raise the Roof” volunteers:

I start with a simple THANK YOU for all the things you did to make “Raise the Roof” such a complete success. You all signed on to a first-time event that was so different, it was a total unknown in our community.

The bottom line of our collective efforts: We believe we surpassed the desired positive impact on our neighbors regarding downtown living, and gave them a taste of new and upcoming residential opportunities (and economic development) emerging over the next 12 to 18 months. At the same time, we raised substantial funds for the Laurent House.

This event was more like five-in-one and required a broad range of skills and efforts. You …

• … Worked in the summer heat outdoors to hand carry 80-pound decking sections (4-foot-by-8-foot platforms) that wouldn’t fit in the Trust elevators, moving them up 11 flights of stairs to the roof for installation, and then down again, after disassembling.

• … “Herded cats,” shepherding our guests from building to building according to a very tight timeline and structured plan — all this with a sense of humor and leadership command second to none! (Carol Wright, of On the Waterfront fame, LOVES each and every one of you because you made her job as Building Captain much easier).

• … Cleared demo debris and cleaned two floors of the Trust Building — without even the benefit of power/lights one night. It goes without saying, there was no air-conditioning!

• … Invited friends in the general community to join us at the Trust. (Thanks to Pablo Korona for posting an SOS on his “Our City, Our Story” Facebook.) Perhaps you saw him and/or his assistant shooting video during the event?

• … Jumped in to assist with set-up (thank you floaters!) at various buildings when we had several folks call in sick.

• … Schlepped garbage (after serving your appetizers and mini-entrees, of course!).

• … Deciphered those terrific schematics (provided by Michelle Minick of Octane) of each building for use by set-up and building captains.

• … Spent the evening squiring a guest with special needs throughout the event (thanks, Brian!).

• … Wore CRAZY headgear (two “squares” on springs) to attract donations — resulting in more than $3,000 in gifts that evening!

• … Made the inspired decision to bring a docent down from the roof to present to a guest with mobility issues.

• … Performed feats of magic everywhere, transforming “sows’ ears into silk purses” at tired spots in several of our venues. (I especially loved the Star roof deck and walkway.)

One of our special guests, Debbie Dixon, Illinois president of Gorman and Co., gushed to several Friends of Ziock that “you set the bar so high” it will be hard to reach. “Rockford knows how to throw a party!”

Similar praise came from Lisa DiChiera, advocacy director of Landmarks Illinois (a 2,500-member historic preservation organization).

I observed or heard about so many “random acts of kindness” over and above your basic duties, it’s hard to stop!

I have worked on events in Rockford (Mayor’s Hunger Luncheon, On the Waterfront food booth, Keith Classics & Chrome Car Show, AirFest etc.) for more than 30 years. I have never been as impressed as I was last weekend. You are — straight out — the best volunteer team I’ve ever seen. (Several other “graduates” of the AirFest and OTW feel the same way.) I’m proud to count myself as one of you.

Marge Bevers

From the Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2013, issue

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