Extreme Makeover -- Rotarian Edition
Sam and Michelle Clifton and their children pose in front of the famous Extreme Makeover: Home Edition bus. Photo by Randy Colwell/Colwell Captures
S am Clifton isn't letting his 15 minutes of fame go to his head. In fact, if he had his way, no one would know his company led the build on the TV reality show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which provides new homes for families in need.
"I asked the producers if I could do this without being known. I didn't want the media attention. But then I thought about how great it would be to get other people in front of the camera, especially guys in the construction business who've been going through a rough time," says Clifton, a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast, Missouri, USA.
The rest is showbiz history. More than 600 skilled laborers -- some unemployed and many from competing firms -- volunteered to help build a 3,300-square-foot home in just six days starting 14 July. The episode is scheduled to air Sunday, 4 October, as part of the show's seventh season on the ABC Television Network.
As co-owner of Millstone Custom Homes with his wife, Michelle, Clifton estimates that a project this size, which included building a barn, chicken coop, and greenhouse, would normally take a crew of 50 about six months.
The five-bedroom house in Ash Grove replaces the 800-square-foot home where Chris and Niki Hampton and their six children had been living. As with every episode of the award-winning program, the family was selected from a group of families in need.
Clifton not only managed the job around the clock, often sleeping in a trailer on-site to be available for late-night questions, but also found volunteers and donors for every phase, to do everything from providing food to landscaping. He says he learned early on the importance of having the right people beside you.
Among the key players were two members of Clifton's Rotary club, Judy Bilyeu and Michael Wehrenberg. The corporate marketing director of Metro Builders Supply, Bilyeu helped with fundraising and recruiting volunteers. She also worked with the show's designers to select $30,000 worth of lighting and appliances from her company's inventory to donate to the project.
Wehrenberg, who is president of Wehrenberg Design Company, developed the project's Web site .
"Through the site, he also was responsible for volunteer recruitment, donor recognition, and scheduling updates, as well as supplying a visual timeline through photos," Michelle says.
It takes a village to raise a house
In addition to the construction crew, the Cliftons estimate that between 1,500 and 1,700 people volunteered over the six days. The community donated 95 percent of the materials for the build, and raised enough money to help pay off the family's existing mortgage.
Clifton admits he'd never organized a community service project before. But he'd do it again.
"It's a fun thing to do and definitely rewarding," says Clifton, who was asked by the show's producers if he'd help with another build.
A Rotarian since 2008, he says he'd also like to help with a service project through Rotary. "It's imperative you have the right heart. You can't be an ‘I' person. If you go into this looking to get something out of it, then it's not going to work."