JOPLIN – A week before ABC’s hit reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s” project to build seven homes in seven days kicked off, an estimated 1,500 people filled the auditorium of Calvary Baptist Church here.
Builders, volunteers and community members came together to participate in a pep rally to share in the excitement surrounding the program’s landmark build in Joplin, a city that suffered huge losses of lives and homes during the May 22 tornado.
“It was energetic and uplifting,” said Lori Hill, Preschool Director for Calvary and the church’s lead organizer during its partnership with the show. “Everybody had a great spirit of love for the families
directly impacted by the tornado and they were pleased that the show picked our community to do something it has never done before: build seven homes in seven days.”
Calvary Baptist also volunteered its building and resources to the effort,
allowing “Extreme Makeover” to transform its downstairs preschool area into a video production studio for the week.
“They did their offsite interviews with the families here,” Hill said. “We had Ty Pennington in and out of here, as well as the designers, home recipients and the film production crew. Everyone was a pleasure to work with. We kept things quiet and they did their thing.”
In the middle of the busy week, Hill said the Northwest Arkansas Harley-Davidson Owners Group Chapter 2075 contacted the church to set up a pep rally of its own. They rode their motorcycles to Joplin, including down the street of the homes being built, and then presented a check to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to help with this important project.
“That night we again had well over 1,000 people here to watch the Harley-Davidson group donate several thousands of dollars that they had raised to ‘Extreme Makeover,’” she said.
Sam Clifton, lead builder for the “Extreme” project and president
of Millstone Custom Homes out of Springfield, acknowledged Calvary Baptist Church in a press release put out by the show.
“Thousands of people in Joplin and from across the country have contacted us to donate, volunteer and support this massive effort to help rebuild Joplin,”Clifton said. “We are so grateful to Pastor Brad Graves and the generous members of Calvary Baptist Church for their generous support so we can all get together and share in the excitement.”
KAYLA RINKER / CONTRIBUTING WRITER