Jul 31

Extreme Makover: Overtime Edition

I admit, I’m a long-time fan of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”.  So it’s no surprise that I’ve traveled around the area to at least two of three builds.

The first, was to the East Bernard, Texas home of the Kubena family back in January of 2006.  Royce Builders removed a mobile home that was unfit for the twin daughters to live in, and provided them with a clean and healthy environment so the girls could actually live at home instead of splitting time between Texas Childrens Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.

Today, I had the opportunity to visit the build site for their latest project, the Johnson Family.  Raising 5 girls in a cramped 700 squre foot house, this family is all about giving to the community, putting their needs behind those in the community.

Originally, the family was supposed to have their new home revealed to them today, but weather and other issues have forced the reveal to be delayed until tommorow.  At last check HHN Homes was over 30 hours behind schedule, and is still calling out for people with certain skills to get the project finished.

All this happens while the family is in Paris, during what is reportedly the first “no tears” episode of the show.  The family was surprised by Ty Pennington and the design team while at a comedy club instead of the usual “wake-up call”, while the build has included a celebrity-roast and visits from several comedians.

Sheila Jackson Lee (in Red) at "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" Build

While I was visiting today, I saw the latest VIP to visit the site, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, obviously in search of cameras (something she’s attracted to like insects to a light). While I don’t object to the idea of local celebrities visiting the build site, if they are just there for face time and not to add value to the effort it becomes more of a hinderance.

Thursday’s visit by Mayor Annise Parker showed that she was willing to get her hands dirty and help out. Something that the volunteers can rally behind and appreciate. I doubt that Congresswoman Jackson Lee even lifted a hammer during her visit.

My excitng moment of the day was when I met two of the real stars of the show. John Kubena was there spending his day helping to get the house done. After his home was made over by the show in 2006, it has become his chance to “pay-it-forward” by helping on the Johnson house.

In talking to John, he reports that the girls are doing fine, and that they still love the house. He told me that 2005 was a tough year for their family, and the events of Extreme Makeover were definately a life-changing moment.

The second person I met is Lici Lewis, cousin of Eric Johnson. She and her husband, Pastor Robert Lewis, are there lending a hand as well to get the house done and back to the Johnsons.  Lici’s association with the family meant she needed to be there, much like John Kubena’s father was there when they were building their house.

(From Left) The Author, Lici Lewis and John Kubena

 One topic that comes up frequently is of the families on the show losing their home after the “celebrity” wears off.  I’ve seen reports of this, and most of the time it’s the family making stupid decisions after the show has left.  There have been instnaces of the families taking a second mortgage on the house to pay bills or other extravigant expenses, and then get upside-down in paying back those loans.

People like John Kubena and his family show that if you accept what is given to you and continue to live within your means, that the house will be a blessing and not a curse.  With the Johnson family’s strong Christian beliefs, I have no doubt that they will praise God for their good fortune and continue to support the community the way they have.

“Welcome home, Johnson Family, Welcome home.”

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