When the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition bus pulled into the parking lot at Rehoboth Presbyterian Church on August 22nd, the Rev. Dale Dunning’s life changed forever. Dunning was selected as the recipient of what would become the Jusst Sooup Ranch, built in one week’s labor by thousands of volunteers who worked around the clock and finished the job despite an earthquake, a hurricane and a near-miss with a tornado.
And during the build, many people from the Milford area donated time, energy and materials for the effort. David Vezmar of Milford worked two shifts, both of which lasted from midnight to 8am.
“I got there around 11:00pm on Wednesday and was amazed at the activity,” said Vezmar. “The place was lit up like it was the middle of the day and there were blue shirts everywhere. Volunteers stayed off to the side until we were needed, the project managers would call the coordinator and request help and we would go do what ever was needed. My first night I did a lot of cleaning up materials no longer needed like wire, plumbing supplies etc. I got to drive the Gator a lot that night!”
Swinging hammers and cleaning up materials wasn’t the only way the Milford community served the EM:HE build. The crew from Milford restaurant Abbott’s Grill spent two days serving food to volunteers in the hospitality tent.
“The response was fabulous, there was great energy,” said Abbott’s Grill owner Kevin Reading. “It really showed how well the Sussex County community pulls together when someone is in need.”
Reading was among those astounded at the achievement of the volunteer crew from day to day.
” [The Extreme Makeover Crew] made amazing progress in the two days we were there,” said Reading. “Everyone united together for the Dunning family.”
Reading also remarked on the escrow account that was put together for the family to pay for property taxes, maintenance and upkeep. The fund reached $300,000 following a large contribution from Schell Brothers on the final day, and will be managed by a Board of Directors.
In the end, the EM:HE experience touched many lives and will continue to benefit the community for many years to come.
“This was an experience I’ll not soon forget,” added Vezmar. “To be around that many people, at that time of morning hyped up on adrenaline, 5-Hour Energy, coffee and Red Bull and have everyone be pleasant and working hard was quite a surprise. All the volunteers I worked with were really nice people. I think that Sussex County was well represented. Just imagine what Habitat for Humanity could do for the County of they could get the same turnout!”