A Community Is Better Together – Op Ed to the Fresno Bee

A Community Is Better Together
Op Ed to the Fresno Bee
by Paula De Young

The cameras are gone, the crowds have cleared away from Rall Avenue and the neighbors have returned to their normal lives. But something special still lingers following the production of the Clovis Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode: the spirit of volunteerism that permeated every facet of this community project. That spirit – and the lives touched by it – are a lasting legacy to our community’s acts of kindness that will not soon be forgotten.

Thanks to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, De Young Properties and the Clovis community, the Nick Reeder family now has a beautiful house to call home and has raised the consciousness of the community to the importance of service.

Local Cal Fire captain, Nick Reeder lost his wife, Amanda, in April 2018 one hour after giving birth to their twin daughters, Kaia and Kelce. This left Nick to raise their new twin girls and their other daughter Layla on his own, while figuring out how to move forward without his wife. His mother, Jeanine, had moved into the 900-square-foot apartment to assist with the girls. Fast forward to July 30, when Nick and his family were greeted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, show designers, and De Young Properties alongside thousands of other volunteers, businesses and every level of government, who built the Reeder family’s new home within seven days!

The effort demonstrated a spirit of generosity, teamwork and collaboration that inspired an entire community.

“Thank you to the community and everyone that has supported us. This has been quite the challenge for our family, but I can see the puzzle pieces being put back together. This home is one piece that will definitely help us,” Nick Reeder said, adding, “The house is so gorgeous. It’s a style that we totally fell in love with.”

“As one of the Volunteer Coordinators for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project with De Young Properties this year, I was really able to see the true definition of “community” come to life. Over 2,000 volunteers arrived all hours of the day and night, sometimes unannounced, and ready to just get their hands dirty and help out because they heard of the Reeder Family’s tremendously deserving story,” said Rae Pardini Matson, Volunteer Coordinator.

This was a home built with lots of love and donated supplies. Over 13,256 board square feet of lumber, 255 drywall sheets, 65 concrete cubic feet, 900 stone square feet, 37 gallons of paint, 1,431 sheets of repurposed wood siding, 3,270 meals and 780 cases of water were donated to build the house and serve the volunteer workforce.

In total, over 10,000 volunteer hours were spent completing the project. As volunteers worked around-the-clock to build the Reeder’s dream home, hundreds of spectators lined the streets to lend their support. The spirit of giving was expanded as spectators brought canned food to help fill the community food bank. By the end of the build, more than 1,813 pounds of water and food were collected.

“It is an honor and a blessing for Central California Food Bank to be a part of the Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  In addition to the food and water collected for the families we serve, we witnessed firsthand another example of how our community comes together to make a very real difference in the lives of those in need in our valley.” said Andy Souza, CEO of the Central California Food Bank.

In addition to their food donations, the community contributed over $20,000 to help the Reeder family.

“Our firm was excited to help support and volunteer at the Extreme Makeover project.  To see the future impact this home will make on Nick’s young family-was so deserving,” said George Tamberi of Ratzlaff, Tamberi and Wong Accountancy Corporation.

Other local businesses and organizations are working to foster the spirit of volunteerism as well.  For example, the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State promotes giving back to the community and encourages the faculty, staff and students of Fresno State to volunteer. A number of them volunteered to help build the Reeder family’s home.

“Fresno State students, faculty and staff pride themselves in leading and participating in community-engagement activities throughout our region, as a way to lift local communities and give of their time and talents to those in need,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro.

Our De Young Properties team was forever changed by this experience because helping the Reeder family reminds us that many of our neighbors need our help. This experience has shown the depth of generosity and compassion in our community.

I would like to challenge every person to keep the goodwill moving forward by volunteering their time to a local nonprofit or to a fellow neighbor in need. We’ve seen what a community can do when they work together to make a difference. I believe it’s just the beginning!

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