Like relatively every American, I watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition every Sunday on ABC. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment and like having a good bawl fest once a week, okay?
Ever since hearing that the show was going to make an appearance in Hattiesburg, where I've been transplanted as a college student at the University of Southern Mississippi, I've been waiting to get my hands dirty. Is there any better way to get involved than physically being there to hammer a nail into the wall of the new family's home? I didn't think twice about it- I immediately went to the show's pep rally at Lake Terrace Convention Center bright and early on a Monday morning and signed up.
I've got to say (much to my chagrin), that now having experienced the show up close, the show has been de-mystified for me. Let me let you in on a secret (if you are a really big fan and love the show's host, Ty Pennington, you may want to skip down): Pennington isn't actually there the whole time. (Sigh) I know. Here's the deal, the show actually films two concurrently. Ty films his segments the first three days of the project, flies to the next home and films the first three days of that project, then flies back to film the final day at the previous house. It's a pretty crazy schedule. God bless 'im, but I was really (naively) surprised that he wasn't more involved. I can't tell you how many times people asked me if I saw him and I had to explain, "Ty isn't here, but he'll be back in a few days."
More than anything, what I realized while I was making sausage and biscuit breakfasts for the construction workers and moving tile out of the house, the experience is not about whether or not Ty, the other designers, or (oh my gawd) Christian Slater is there, it's about the community coming together. I didn't specifically know anyone when I got on the shuttle to house, but by the end all of us knew each other's names, where we were from, each other's jobs, and other information I'm not sure I could not spout off about my own neighbor. After finishing finals and preparing to head back to Jackson for the holidays, Extreme Makeover was exactly what I needed- a good reminder of why community and community involvement is so important, whether it's in the capital city or Hattiesburg.
*As I left the site, the workers were a little behind schedule with lots of bad weather beating down on the house, slowing things down. For more information on how you can help build the Heathcock's home or donate money for last-minute supplies (such as more drinks, which they were beginning to run low on), visit http://www.extremehattiesburg.com.