SafePlace gets a new roof

February 1999 brought one of our finest moments in honoring Annie's memory. At the time Ed was president of the local chapter of the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas (RCAT). RCAT frequently undertook community service projects, and Ed convinced his fellow members to participate in SafePlace's new resource center. Immediately the roofing contractors agreed to donate their labor to install the new roof. Then suppliers chimed in and donated all the materials needed for the roof. All in all, the donation amounted to $85,000, which was ultimately matched by the Kresge Foundation grant that SafePlace obtained—a total of $170,000 for SafePlace, thanks to RCAT.

Below is the article that appeared in the Austin American-Statesman reporting this story on construction day. Ironically, Ed and Chris departed that day for our Hawaii vacation trip, scheduled long before the roof project, so Ed missed being part of the work. He was definitely there in spirit, though.

Safe Haven

A daughter's tragedy brings out a need to help

by Cara Tanamachi
Austin American-Statesman staff
February 13, 1999

Ed Born-Long
Local roofing contractor Ed Born-Long has organized donations of material and labor to build a roof for SafePlace's new shelter for battered women. His daughter was killed in 1997 in what police believe was a case of domestic violence.

When Ed Born-Long walked into the SafePlace battered women's shelter nearly two years ago, he made quite an impression.

The broad-shouldered Pflugerville roofing contractor, who stands over 6 feet tall, came in with his hat in his hands, asking for help.

His 21-year-old daughter had been brutally killed in California a month before in what police thought was a case of domestic violence. Her boyfriend at the time was the prime suspect.

"I was lost and confused," said Born-Long, 57. "I knew there was nothing I could do that would bring her back. But I couldn't just sit back and do nothing."

Born-Long said he was drawn to SafePlace because it helps victims of domestic violence, and he thought it could help him heal. He threw himself into volunteer work at SafePlace, doing repairs on the building and helping raise money. When he learned SafePlace was constructing a new building near downtown and needed a roof, he recruited the help of other roofers. Today, roofers from across the region will gather to put on the roof, an $85,000 value, for free, thanks in great part to Born-Long's efforts.

"He's a true hero," said Kelly White Rountree, SafePlace executive director. "He's one of those people who does things quietly and doesn't expect to get credit...He's this rough and gruff roofing contractor who's got this incredibly gentle side and a heart of gold."

Rountree said that while the other roofing contractors deserve lots of credit for being willing to donate their time and supplies, she believes Born-Long is the heart of the project.

SafePlace is attempting to raise $1.5 million by March 1 to qualify for a $750,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation. Rountree said SafePlace needs to raise an additional $80,000 by the end of the month.

Born-Long continues to touch the hearts of volunteers at SafePlace. Recently SafePlace received a check for $25 from an out-of-state company. The donor told Rountree that he had owed Born-Long $25, but Born-Long told him to send the money to SafePlace.

Born-Long's daughter Annie was shot and killed in Fresno, Calif., on July 4, 1997. While police suspect domestic violence, no one has been charged in her slaying. Annie was a college student who had hoped to work with children with disabilities.

Born-Long recalls how his daughter would sometimes have bruises or cuts on her face when she visited him.

"I was just too damn dumb to see it," Born-Long said. " She was able to talk to me about everything, but she didn't talk to me about this."

Born-Long has struggled to come to terms with his daughter's death and his role as a father. "If you're a father, where does your responsibility end?" he said. "Should you let the law handle it, or should you jump in your pickup truck with a gun and go get him? That's what I asked myself."

Born-Long, who added his second wife's maiden name "Long" to his own "Born" because he thought it aptly described his massive frame, shrugs off any praise he receives about his work with SafePlace.

"SafePlace saved me," he said. "They've done more for me than I could ever do for them."

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