Aug 21, 2008 Allison Gibbons Uncategorized
Host Ty Pennington and the rest of the cast of “Extreme Home Makeover” arrived early Monday morning at the house on 148 William St., Geneva, owned by Tim Hill to give his family the surprise of their lives.
Tim and Michelle Hill have four children, and the family runs a gym for underprivileged children. The house they live in is more than 150 years old and according to the Mahoney Design and Build, Inc. Web site, the house will include a new boxing gym.
The surprise visit to the house was preceded by a rally last Tuesday, Aug. 12, at Eastern Hills Bible Church. Hundreds of members attended the opening rally for the Central New York edition of “Extreme Home Makeover,” even before the family was announced.
“Our families never know we’re coming,” Executive Producer Conrad Ricketts reminded rally-goers.
Despite the hopes of many, Pennington was not in attendance, but many other members of the cast, along with Ricketts, were.
The rally was held at Eastern Bible Church in Manlius, of which Tim Mahoney, who is heading the project here, and his wife, Ingrid, are members.
Mahoney addressed the crowd after a brief introduction. He praised his team.
“A couple of weeks ago when I pulled my team together it was amazing,” Mahoney said. “I could count the no’s on one hand That really speaks volumes about our community.”
A fan of the show for five seasons, Mahoney said he always told his wife he would accept the show in a heartbeat if given the chance. When asked, he did, but immediately wondered how he could ever put a house together in just 106 hours. Normally it takes four months.
“I want to say thank you to everyone participating, in a big way or a small way,” he said, because those people are who gave him the confidence to say yes to ABC.
Ricketts was next to speak. He reminded the crowd that everything — every speck of wood, every piece of furniture, every worker — has to be donated for the show, which is what makes it so unique.
“Everybody comes to it thinking they’re going to change a family’s life — they change their own life,” Ricketts said.
He asked the residents taking part in the show to pay it forward.
“Help someone else,” Ricketts said.
Families and church members came out of the rally excited; many looking for ways to help.
Manlius resident Erica Seerles said they told her the volunteer spaces were already filled up by the time she went to sign up. She said this didn’t surprise her.
“We have some city missions. We do a lot of volunteer work,” Seerles said of the church.
Despite her attempts to discover who the family was, Seerles said she had no luck.
“All we know is that you have to be willing to drive an hour,” she said. “There are people who know, but they aren’t talking.”
Syracuse Carpenter John Shirley and his wife, Kerry, were also in attendance that Tuesday morning. Both said they were looking to sign up and were willing to pledge either their help or any of his men.
Melanie Miller, a Skaneateles resident who drives nearly an hour to get to the Eastern Bible Hills Church, said she was very excited when she heard EHM was coming to Central New York.
“I watch it faithfully and I cry every week,” she said. Miller said she likes the show because of the way the whole community bonds. “I think that the community, that everybody pulls together,” she said.
Miller said she signed up as soon as she could through Mahoney’s Web site, but doesn’t know yet whether they selected her. She said she is willing to do anything they need.
When asked if she thinks Eastern Hills will pull together, she said, “Oh god, yes. Just look what P&C has done already.”
Walking out and witnessing a member go out of his way to stop a car driving away with a coffee cup on the roof; it’s easy to see why Miller has so much faith.