More than 50 local volunteers transform Suffolk home for single mother, son

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2005

Late this afternoon, a Nixon Drive family will find out how much Big Brothers Big Sisters and the United Way truly care. For the past few days, dozens of volunteers from Ciba Specialty Chemicals and other businesses have been working, in the tradition of the ABC television show &uot;Extreme Makeover,&uot; to renovate the home of a mother and son living in the Lake Kennedy neighborhood.

Floors are being replaced, walls gutted, bathtubs, lights, sinks, and fixtures installed, the porch repaired, and other construction work has been done in preparation for the unveiling at 4 p.m. today.

Suffolk’s home makeover is one of four being done in Hampton Roads, all in connection with the United Way of South Hampton Road’s annual Day of Caring.

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&uot;The Day of Caring is a day when people go out and work with their hands to improve the quality of life in a community,&uot; said United Way representative Lexi Caswell, sweeping up a load of dirt in the home’s hallway.

Past Day of Caring events have included landscaping near King’s Fork Middle School, painting Birdsong Recreation Center, fixing up playground equipment at the Children’s Center on Wilroy Road, and placing a wheelchair ramp at a private residence.

Furniture from the home was stored in a Pod outside the house. More furnishings were donated by a local store, and Caswell said that Lowe’s had given the organization discounts on other equipment.

She said that the family has been staying with friends or family during the repairs.

&uot;I can’t wait until (the family) gets here,&uot; she said Thursday. &uot;(The workers) have been here since early this morning, and they’ll stay until they get to a point where they feel like they can finish up tomorrow. They’ve been working all day on something that’s going to last for years.&uot;

A Ciba engineer by trade, Quenton Goodwin used his mechanical skills to set some fixtures outside the house’s bathroom. Others people milled around, temporarily becoming electricians, plumbers and carpenters.

&uot;It feels good to help other people out and help someone else to live,&uot; he said. &uot;We try to volunteer every year.&uot;