Winston-Salem roofing company owner uses tough past, faith to push toward the future

It’s probably not an accident that Jacob Goodin has that name.

“Jacob’s Ladder,” according to the Book of Genesis in the Bible, is the route from earth to heaven. And, when he was younger, Jacob seemed determined to avoid climbing it.

He had a roommate who did a lot of drugs – Jacob wanted nothing to do with the drugs until one night he just didn’t want to feel the way he was feeling and tried it. Then, he couldn’t give it up.

“I move away, several times, to try and run away from it and each time, everywhere I went I'd still find it,” says Jacob. “Even then, one night, we went to a club and I asked them where we could get some powder cocaine. They said, 'We got something better than that,' and they introduced me to crack cocaine.”

He not only kicked the drug habit but started the business he wanted since he was a kid – roofing – and used that name, “Jacob’s Ladder,” as its name. It’s a daily reminder that he was born with a makeup that requires vigilance to stay clean.

“I believe in the addict's mind is always that lingering thought that it's never going to end,” says Jacob.

“You've got to be willing to put faith in people,” says Ken Heater. He has a little experience in that. Heater is the executive director of the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission. The mission needed a new roof and Jacob’s bid won. Heater had no idea that Jacob had a past that resembled what many of the 300 men who are residents of the mission each year have. It’s only after Jacob had won the contract that they began talking about what Jacob had to overcome to own the roofing company.

Heater immediately knew, though, that there was a blessing in Jacob’s past, with him now doing the good work to fix a roof in serious need of repair.

“That's always an encouragement that you can hold up to guys and say, ‘Look, it is possible, you can do it, too,”’ Says Heater.

Because he’s seen what his mission’s work can do – results that must appear to be a miracle to those outside of the mission – as it helps thousands of people, each year, get their lives back in line.

“The key is, if they'll apply what they've been taught - if they'll keep good support around them, not go back to their old haunts and they're old connections and the old lifestyle - then they are able to continue, successfully,” he says.

“There's hope,” notes Jacob. “We're not alone - you're not alone, the guys in the WS Rescue Mission, they’re not alone.”