United Way fixes up Nixon home

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 11, 2005

There was no crowd chanting calls to &uot;move that bus.&uot;

In fact, there wasn’t even a bus – the trademark of ABC’s hit show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – or popular host Ty Pennington in front of the small home in the Lake Kennedy subdivision.

But rest assured, the ranch house in the 700 block of Nixon Drive has gotten an extreme makeover over the past three days, courtesy of

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dozens of volunteers participating in the United Way of South Hampton Road’s annual Day of Caring.

Volunteers have been working around the clock since Wednesday to refurbish the home, where a single mother is raising her 8-year-old son, a student at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School. The family, whose name is not being released by United Way, has declined to talk with the media.

As United Way supporters partied at the organization’s fundraiser, Nosh on the Nansemond, late Friday, a handful of volunteers continued putting the finishing touches on the house – mulching, painting trim and moving furniture into the house.

It’s been a busy three days, said Ed Crather, an employee at Ciba Specialty Chemicals who has overseen the project.

More than 30 Ciba employees, along with volunteers from Big Brothers Big Sisters and other businesses in the Suffolk community, have spent countless hours at the house recently, said Crather. Some have come in the wee hours of the morning, then worked as late as midnight.

Volunteer crews have gutted and rebuilt bathrooms, rewired much of the house, replaced kitchen cabinets, appliances, carpets and flooring, and painted, inside and out.

&uot;The biggest challenge has been the timeline,&uot; said Crather. &uot;This project is far bigger than anything else we have undertaken in other years.&uot;

Volunteers in the United Way’s Day of Caring, which kicks off the agency’s annual fundraising campaign in Hampton Roads, are usually assigned projects at one of a handful of local organizations and agencies served by United Way.

This year, United Way, riding the wave of popularity of the hit television show, directed all of its efforts on revamping four houses in the Hampton Roads. The Nixon Drive house was the only one in Suffolk.

&uot;It has been kind of nice focusing on just one project,&uot; Crather said.

Ciba, like many local companies, has always taken the Day of Caring to heart. Dozens of company employees- engineers, department heads and other workers – always look forward to giving their time to United Way, Crather said.

&uot;It’s just something the company always likes to do,&uot; he said.

Fellow Ciba employee Monica Johnson, as she planted flowers around a lamppost in the front yard, agreed.

‘&uot;It’s one thing I do every year,&uot; said Johnson. &uot;It’s fun and we’re helping the community. It’s very rewarding.&uot;