GARDINER — As she finished work Friday afternoon, Kathy Hanson got a call from her 23-year-old son. He asked her to come soon because their cat was stuck up on the roof.

When Hanson, 56, arrived at her house on Libby Hill Road, she didn’t find the cat up there.

She did find something else: $2,600 worth of brand new roof shingles that had been installed for free while she was at work.

“I got home and I could have cried right there,” Hanson said. “I got the best neighbors; you couldn’t ask for any better — they’re great.”

The neighbors responsible for Hanson’s surprise new roof included Stephen Ahearn, who lives next door and owns Ahearn’s Express, and Don Mansir, owner of Mansir’s Roofing & Siding LLC down the road.

Mansir recalled that Hanson had priced out a new roof a few years ago, but she worked part-time and couldn’t afford it. She has lived in the house for about 17 years.

“I kept watching and it kept getting worse and worse,” Mansir said of the 25-year-old roof. “It was in real bad shape. The shingles were deteriorating.”

When Ahearn mentioned the roof’s condition again recently, he and Mansir decided something had to be done.

“Myself and a few local businesses got together and we all bought the material — about $2,600 worth,” Mansir said, saying the new roof singles should last for 45 years.

After Hanson left for work at Sam’s Club in Augusta Friday morning, Mansir and others got to work on the roof, finishing both the job and cleanup by early afternoon.

That’s when Hanson’s son, Shane Austin, called her with the ruse about their cat.

When Hanson got over her initial shock, she hugged the roofers and thanked them profusely.

“It actually restores my faith in people helping one another,” she said. “They’re such great guys, and I’m really happy with it.”

Mansir said he really enjoyed helping his neighbor, too. “It feels good to help somebody out who’s really in need,” he said.

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