A new partnership between the Johnson City-based home-repair ministry Appalachia Service Project and the producers of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” ABC-TV’s series that builds new homes for deserving families in need, is working to benefit low-income homeowners in the Tri-Cities area as well.
More than 100 ASP volunteers, including staff members from ASP’s headquarters in Johnson City and a group of professional builders from Boone Trail Baptist Church in Boones Creek, are in Knoxville this weekend working around the clock on an “Extreme Makeover” project that kicked off early last week.
The home demolition and building blitz for Daniel and Mandy Watson, a west Knoxville couple who operate a nonprofit program for low-income single mothers, was expected to wrap up Tuesday but was delayed by weather and will likely continue through the later part of the week. The project will be featured in a special two-hour Thanksgiving “Extreme Makeover” episode to air in late November.
It’s the second “Extreme Makeover” project the local ASP program and Boone Trail volunteers have taken part in and follows a similar all-volunteer home demolition and build conducted last month in Charlotte, N.C.
Tim Norton, chief advancement officer for ASP, said it was during the December project that one of the major contractors involved in the build, who was also a former ASP youth volunteer, introduced the show’s producers to the Johnson City ministry. Following that introduction, Norton said the ministry was invited to call in its army of church volunteers from all over the United States to help with the Charlotte and Knoxville projects. In exchange, ASP could recover all reusable materials salvaged form the home demolitions — windows, doors, flooring, plumbing fixtures and the like — as well as all new materials leftover from the new home builds.
The items recovered from the projects are being brought to Johnson City for storage and ASP prefers to purchase the materials it uses in its summer home repair program in the rural mountain communities where it is concentrated. Therefore, Norton said ASP will use most of the “Extreme Makeover” windfall in its year-round Tri-Cities program that focuses on making homes “warmer, safer and dryer” for low-income residents of the local area.
While the Knoxville project is still in full swing and the total value of ASP’s involvement is yet to be seen, Norton said the ministry brought home four truckloads of materials from Charlotte.
Meanwhile, the Knoxville community is abuzz with hundreds of construction volunteers and the “Extreme Makeover” taping crew on site 24/7 in the Watsons’ Park West neighborhood. Streets have been blocked off to make way for heavy truck traffic in and out of the construction site. A spectators’ area has been constructed adjacent to the build to accommodate the curious. On Tuesday, there was an “Extreme Makeover” Parade in front of Neyland Stadium complete with some of the giant helium balloons featured in the annual Macy’s Christmas parade.
The show’s producers are issuing daily media advisories, and on Thursday included a request for more lumber, asking anyone who can donate to visit the Grace Construction website www.grace-info.com for details on how to help with a variety of project needs.
According to the website, the Watsons left their jobs five years ago in order to create The Restoration House of East Tennessee, a converted apartment complex where single mothers and their children receive housing, mentoring and other assistance to help them achieve self-sufficiency. The Watsons’ home was poorly insulated and in need of such extensive repairs it was threatening the couple’s ability to maintain their nonprofit program as well as their dream of expanding Restoration House to help more single mothers and their children.
The build team is also requesting donations to the “Knoxville Family Build Fund” to help the Watsons with their mortgage. Donations to the fund may be made at the Grace Construction website or at any Home Federal Bank location.