The following stories about “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” appeared in Clay Today Jan. 13, 2011, to Feb. 12, 2011
 
 
Move that bus!
 
 
 
More than a thousand people came to the Chicory Avenue site to watch the Prewitt-Brewer family’s reveal of their Extreme Makeover. 
 
The family reacts to seeing their new home for the first time.
 
The Home is revealed.
 
Carrie Prewitt and Ashley, Taylor and Gina Brewer wear University of North Florida sweatshirts given to them by President John Delaney after he announced the girls would receive full four-year scholarships to UNF.
February 4, 2011 
 
‘Extreme’ family delighted with new home

By Christina Leach Phillips

Correspondent

MIDDLEBURG — Although skies were overcast on Wednesday, Feb. 2, when Carrie Prewitt, and her daughters, Ashley, Taylor, and Gina Brewer, emerged from their limo, their beaming faces seemed to brighten the day for the over one thousand people who came to watch the reveal of the family’s “Extreme Makeover.”

After hugging Host Ty Pennington, the designers, and build teams,  the “Brewitts” stood next to the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” bus that hid the house from their view.

Then Pennington and the crowd started cheering, “Move that bus!”

As the bus moved away, Prewitt and her three girls held each other and looked to be in shock with Ashley falling to her knees when they saw their new home.

When the family walked toward their new 3,400 square foot brown and tan colored Polynesian-style house to go inside, Middleburg High School students and volleyball players shouted, “We love you, Coach Prewitt!”

Prewitt’s mother, Irene Prewitt, from Lakeland, who also arrived in the limo with the family, had surprised them with a visit while they were on vacation in the Virgin Islands as part of a special Extreme Makeover program that will air on Mother’s Day. 

Crowds started lining up behind barricades early Wednesday morning along both sides of Chicory Avenue and on the corner of Kalmia Street.

As they waited, they watched TV production crews set up scenes by moving the bus and limo and asking a few spectators to stand in for the family. The crowd shouted, “We want Ty.” When Pennington and designers, Michael Maloney, Tracy Hutson, and Jillian Harris, arrived, Pennington greeted spectators and gave hugs to a few. After more production takes, the family arrived in their limo close to 5 p.m.

Prewitt, a single Middleburg High School volleyball coach who took in the three girls and became their permanent guardian after their parents died, found out from the ABC show on Wednesday, Jan. 26, that she and the girls would get a new home in one week.

In an intensive 24/7 building production, the two Florida builders, J.A. Long Design Builders of Orange Park and Art Remodeling and Construction of Gainesville, worked with hundreds of volunteers, partners, and sponsors to make that happen.

At a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 3, John Delaney, President of the University of North Florida (UNF) surprised the family with the announcement that the college awarded full, four-year scholarships covering tuition, fees, room and board to Ashley, 18, Taylor, 14, and Gina, 12.

Holding back tears, Prewitt said, “This lifts a burden off my shoulders knowing that they are going to be able to have an education. . . It’s a great university, and we are very honored for this amazing gift.”

When the girls were asked what they would like to study in college, all three said they wanted to be involved in the medical field.

Kim Deppe from Community First Credit Union of Florida, a sponsor of the Extreme Makeover and a teachers’ credit union, said Prewitt’s situation made it “a very easy decision for us to come on board and support this effort.”

In addition, Dr. Robert Fields, an Orange Park orthodontist, donated complimentary braces for the entire family, the Jacksonville Jaguars gave them four 2011 season tickets, and the Dolphin Conservation Center at Marineland donated gift certificates to the Discover Dolphins program, among just a few of the announced gifts.

At the reveal, an executive producer of the show also announced that the family’s mortgage had been paid for them.

When Prewitt was asked what it was like when they moved the bus, she said, “My legs were shaking. . . When that bus moved, and we saw this amazing house, we were awestruck — It was absolutely beautiful. . . It exceeded whatever kind of expectations we thought we were going to see on the other side of that bus — It was pretty phenomenal.”

Prewit continued, “We are so grateful to the builders, J.A. Long and Ark Builders.  They have done an amazing job.  Not only have they built a fantastic house for us, but they have been so gracious to us.”

She said the makeover was “big” for all of them, “But for the girls, they have always gone from one house to another, and people have always had to make room for them, and rearrange things for them. . .  This is the first time that they have a house that a room was created for them. . . We are grateful and we know how blessed we are.”

Prewitt said that the family loves Middleburg, and she thanked the people who volunteered.

“The people that have come out to help us all week long, it is overwhelming to hear the stories of how many people were out here and how many people came out to help, so I really want them to know that means a lot to us.”

For a list of sponsors and partners who contributed to the Extreme Makeover, go online to http://www.northfloridaextrememakeover.com. 

–Editor’s note: Below are previous stories about the Extreme Makeover:Home Edition” build in Middleburg.)

 

Spectators watch the construction  of the 3,400 square foot home.

By Christina Leach Phillips

Correspondent

MIDDLEBURG — With the Wednesday, Feb. 2, deadline for the completion of the Prewitt-Brewer home just two days away, builders on Monday put out a call on Facebook for more painters, masons, tile installers, siders and roofers.

That day, an army of volunteers in blue “Extreme Makeover” T-shirts and white hard hats worked on the roof, inside and outside the house, and laid the driveway while camera crews filmed the construction, and dozens of spectators looked on.

By late Tuesday, Feb. 1, the outside of the 3,400-square-foot house with a two-car garage and a large front entry appeared mostly complete. The landscaping was done, and work was being completed inside the house as new furniture was moved in.

The one-week 24/7 Extreme Makeover has transformed the quiet Middleburg neighborhood into a noisy large-scale construction site and movie set, with tractor trailers and construction vehicles lining the streets, and production vans, tents and RVs parked in neighbors’ yards, which will later be cleaned up and landscaped.

Linda Long from J.A. Long Design Builders showed visitors the RV she and her husband, John Long, have lived in during the build. Since John worked the night shift on Monday, he slept during the day while Linda managed construction issues along with their son, Randy Long, chief operating officer of the company.

Some members of the Extreme Makeover team stayed at area hotels including the Suburban Extended Stay Hotel of Orange Park, which offered free rooms to the crews.

When asked what happens when Clay County building inspections need to be done in the middle of the night to stay on schedule, Linda Long said, “One of the inspectors lives about a half mile from here, so they asked him if he would come out in the middle of the night and do inspections, and he has.”

Neighbors who watched the makeover on Monday included the Ramirez family. John Ramirez works for Papa John’s Pizza, one of the food providers for the build. He and his parents, Gloria and Rosendo Ramirez, live down the street from the Prewitt-Brewer family.

John Ramirez said, “It’s awesome. It’s great that Hollywood has come out to our neighborhood and is doing all this beautification for all the neighbors including Ms. Prewitt.”

In a big white tent, volunteers served up food to crews who sat together at cafeteria-style tables talking and enjoying a break.

Nancy Klock, crew chief in the food tent, said, “It has been an experience and one that you will never forget. . . to watch a community come together and do something like this for a lady who has done so much for all these kids.”

Kathy Deckard and Carol Garrison said they became friends when they met while volunteering. Garrison said she volunteered with her husband who owns an excavation company.

Deckard, who works for Dr. Robert Fields, an Orange Park orthodontist, said, the whole staff has volunteered during the build. “We’ve been there almost every day doing anything we can to help,” she said. “The community has really come out and helped a lot.”

Dr. Stephen Fierro, a chiropractor, said he was there to provide massage therapy for the workers. “It’s a wonderful thing what they are doing,” he said.

Kimberly Middleton said she and her husband, Chip Middleton, a construction business owner and a project leader for the night team, volunteered for the full seven days of the build. She said they have done clean up, sheet rock, demolition, moved boxes and furniture, and made runs at night for food, drinks, or whatever is needed.

“It’s been very overwhelming, and I’m very proud to be a part of it. And as little sleep as we’ve had and the things we’ve gone through, we both said we would do it all over again,” Middleton said.

Some of the subcontractors who volunteered are themselves going through hard times, according to George Hathcock, a construction sales rep, who volunteered in the staging area.

He said, “You’ve got plumbers, electricians, painters, and framers on the brink of going out of business, and they are volunteering even though some of them worry if then can pay their light bill.”

All of the volunteers, partners, and sponsors, whatever role they played, have become a united force to build a new home and a new life for Middleburg High School Volleyball Coach, Carrie Prewitt, and her three daughters, Ashley, Taylor, and Gina.

“She (Prewitt) is phenomenal, and those girls are going to be very excited when they get back,” Middleton said.

By Christina Leach Phillips

Correspondent

MIDDLEBURG — In her 25 years at Middleburg High School as a volleyball coach and a PE teacher, Carrie Prewitt has become a mentor, counselor, confidante, and often a second mom to her students. 

 She also works with students in the community running volleyball camps and a weekly league using the proceeds to help those who cannot afford the camps or supplies.

That’s why people who know Prewitt were not surprised when the Extreme Makeover winner and beloved coach took in one of her players, Ashley Brewer, and her two younger sisters, Taylor and Gina, after their parents died, becoming their permanent guardian and giving them a stable home life.

“Carrie Prewitt embodies everything that you would want in an educator.  She is caring, compassionate, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that she took those three girls into her home,” said MHS Principal, David Broskie.

He said her work with students “goes above and beyond the traditional roles.”

“I can’t think of a more deserving person than Carrie Prewitt,” Broskie said.

Jim Hughes, who has known Prewitt for 20 years and coached with her at MHS, said, “These girls are no relation to her, but she felt driven to take in these girls.”

“She is such a deserving person, dedicating her life and career to her students and players,” he said. “She has helped over 100 former players over the years receive college scholarships by going the ‘extra mile’ for each one. But more than that, she has been a mentor and example for each.”

Hughes said the Prewitt-Brewer family’s home on Chicory Avenue in Middleburg was an old house that became run down with age, and friends helped Prewitt replace floor boards, plumbing, electrical, and fix other problems.

When Prewitt brought the three girls into the home two years ago, she needed furniture, bedding and other things, and she got most of it on Craig’s List and through donations from friends, he said.

Prewitt’s friends and fellow teachers saw a need and got involved helping her with the applications, and recording and editing a video needed for submission for an Extreme Makeover, Hughes said. Some parents of her volleyball players also nominated the family, and over 100 of them wrote letters of recommendation.

Before the announcement on Wednesday, Jan. 26, Hughes said Prewitt knew she and the girls were one of the five Clay County families being considered for an Extreme Makeover, so it didn’t seem unusual when the show’s producers said they needed extra film of volleyball practice at the school.

Broskie, who greeted the Extreme Makeover team when they arrived, said, “It was very exciting for our school to have Extreme Makeover come to film, and I am so proud of the way the students handled the change to the normal routine at school.”

As Ty Pennington and the team of designers barged into the gym to surprise Prewitt with the announcement, Broskie said that Ashley, Taylor and Gina were there too.

“She collapsed to her knees, and it was an extremely emotional moment,” Broskie said.

Sarah Baker, a teacher at MHS, noted, “There was not a dry eye in the house.”

The “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” show about the Prewitt-Brewer family will air on Mother’s Day, May 8.

“The taking in of the three children the way Carrie did at this point in her life is kind of appropriate that it is a Mother’s Day show,” Broskie said.

On Jan. 29, the University of North Florida announced that it awarded full, four-year scholarships covering tuition, fees, room and board to Ashley, Taylor, and Gina Brewer.

For more up-to-date information, go online to http://www.northfloridaextrememakeover.com,

Twitter at nflbuild, or Facebook at facebook.com/nfbuild.

ABCs Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Designer Michael Maloney gets ready to fire the “Pumpkin Cannon” with frozen volleyball ammo at the Prewitt-Brewer home to beging demoliton.

Demo continues with large excavator.

By Christina Leach Phillips

Correspondent

MIDDLEBURG — When a “pumpkin cannon” manned by designer, Michael Maloney, shot volleyballs filled with frozen water at the Prewitt-Brewer house on Thursday, Jan. 27, volunteers cheered as the ammo put holes in the house and smashed windows and the front door during the demolition.

In between blasts, ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington surveyed the damage

Then, a bigger gun, a large excavator, came in and brought the house down in a matter of minutes. 

Linda Long from J.A. Long Design Builders of Orange Park said that once the concrete slab is poured with a special fast-drying concrete, carpenters will begin setting up walls and floors on Friday, Jan. 28, which is also the first day that spectators will be allowed at the construction site.

While the Prewitt-Brewer family consisting of mother Carrie Prewitt and sisters Ashley, Taylor and Gina Brewer, also known as the “Brewitts,” vacation in the Virgin Islands, thousands of volunteers are building a house and a dream for the family formed when Prewitt, a volleyball coach at Middleburg High School, became the girls’ legal guardian after their parents died.

Cash donations for the family are still needed, and Tracy Wingate with Art Remodeling and Construction said several fund raisers have been organized to help raise money including a Skate Station event on Monday, Jan. 31, and a silent auction. There will also be Extreme Makeover: Home Edition t-shirts available for sale at the build site to raise funds.

Wingate said they still need upholsterers, and there are many other design, construction and skilled labor needs listed on the website at http://www.northfloridaextrememakeover.com.

The remainder of the build schedule includes:

Saturday, Jan. 29

Construction continues inside and outside.

Sunday, Jan. 30

Painting begins and the kitchen is installed.

Monday, Jan. 31

Interior finishes and landscaping are completed.

Tuesday, Feb. 1
The house is built and furniture is moved in.

Wednesday, Feb. 2
“Reveal Day” Finishing details are completed, and the family arrives home between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Then “Move that bus!”

By Christina Leach Phillips

Correspondent

MIDDLEBURG — A volleyball coach at Middleburg High School who took in three girls after their parents died learned Wednesday, Jan. 26, from ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s Ty Pennington and the show’s designers that she and her girls will get a new home in one week.

Two years ago, Carrie Prewitt took one of her players, Ashley Brewer (now 18 years old) into her home along with her two younger sisters, Taylor and Gina.

Prewitt’s small, run-down house on Chicory Avenue in Middleburg does not properly accommodate them, and crumbling walls make the house unsafe especially during hurricane season, according to a release.

Prewitt, who is now the girls’ permanent guardian, is known for treating all her players like daughters. She also coaches several club teams and runs camps for girls ranging from elementary school to high school age.

Although Prewitt always dreamed of getting married and having children one day, a curable cancer in her late 20s left her unable to have biological children.

The Prewitt-Brewer family who call themselves the “Brewitts,” will go on vacation to the Virgin Islands while the home is being built.

Milan Vasic, the show’s senior producer, said there were over 2,000 applications for a home makeover from the Jacksonville area. In the past few weeks, the field was narrowed down to five families in Clay County before the final selection of the Prewitt-Brewer family.

A recent community pep rally helped enlist volunteers, but skilled labor and donations for the family are still needed, according to the North Florida Extreme Makeover website.

The week-long 24/7 makeover starts Thursday, Jan. 27 when the two Florida builders, J.A. Long Design Builders of Orange Park and Art Remodeling and Construction of Gainesville, and their volunteer crews demolish the house.

Spectators are welcome on Friday, Jan. 28, when people may stand in a designated area. Since parking is not permitted at the construction site, shuttles will run continuously 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from South Middleburg Baptist Church at 4565 Alligator Blvd. until Wednesday, Feb. 2, when the family returns from vacation to see their new home.

“Just be there outside to support us — wave your hand and say ‘hi’ and ‘thank you’ and take care of all these workers out there and cheer them on — That’s real important — It means a lot to the workers as well,” said Ricky Strickland, president of Art Remodeling and Construction, who built a house for an Extreme Makeover in Gainesville in 2009.

Should an injury or illness occur during construction, volunteers from the Orange Park Medical Center will be there to provide first responder medical services with nearly 50 nurses, technicians, paramedics and other clinicians on location 24/7.

To learn about more area businesses that have donated to the Extreme Makeover and to receive up-to-date information, go online to http://www.northfloridaextrememakeover.com, Twitter at nflbuild, or Facebook at facebook.com/nfbuild.

Spectators are asked to bring canned food for the Food Pantry of Green Cove Springs, which will have an area set up at the build site. There will also be a blood drive during construction.

  

Pep Rally for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
“Extreme” Build teams on stage at Pep Rally.
Pep rally gets ‘Extreme’ teams pumped up
January 19, 2011   
By Christina Leach Phillips
Correspondent

FLEMING ISLAND — As anticipation builds for the announcement of the Clay County family who will get a makeover of their home, producers from ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” arrived in town to host a pep rally Tuesday, Jan. 18, to ignite community support and recruit volunteers.

Held at Christ’s Church in Fleming Island, the pep rally filled the church to capacity with a standing-room only crowd that was entertained by Jaguar mascot, Jackson de Ville, Giants mascot, Mr. Biggs, and Jaguar cheerleaders.

After Dave Willis, pastor of Christ’s Church, welcomed the audience, the two Florida builders, J.A. Long Design Builders of Orange Park and Art Remodeling and Construction of Gainesville introduced their teams and thanked the Clay County community.

“What you do in the next few days is going to make a dream come true for a family,” said Ricky Strickland, president of Art Remodeling and Construction of Gainesville, who was a builder for an Extreme Makeover in 2009.

“It’s an awesome thing — just the fact that thousands of workers can come together who are normally competing against each other in this marketplace. They’re going to join hands on the job — You’ll see the plumber reach up and help the electrician, and you’ll see the electrician get down from his ladder and go over and help the guy putting up drywall.”

Milan Vasic, the show’s senior producer, talked about the Emmy Award winning show’s history and showed highlights from the past seven years. In describing the types of families who are selected for a makeover, he said, “We are looking for heroes.”

Vasic said the Clay County makeover will be the show’s 187th build. When asked why Clay County was chosen, he said, “We don’t so much choose the counties as the families choose us, so people can nominate to the show or someone can nominate them for the show. We also need to make sure that there are enough resources in the area, so Clay County meets all of those criteria and the fact that we are trying to move with the weather patterns — It’s nice to be in Florida this time of year.”

There are still many items needed for the makeover, according to Randy Long, chief operating officer of J.A. Long, who said, “We still need trim materials, concrete, and, of course, we are still trying to raise donations for the family. We also need help with a deck that we need to build and exterior siding. If anybody is skilled and wants to get out and help. . . and we still need food donations, too”

Strickland said, “What we really need right now is for people to look on the website (www.northfloridaextrememakeover.com) and look at what needs to be donated. We need people to donate anything they could — money that will go towards helping the family and helping with the construction. You will be able to see the selection as far as volunteering.”

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s host, Ty Pennington, did not attend the event but will arrive in Clay County to announce the name of the winning family during the week of Jan. 24, which will kick off the week-long 24/7 building and decorating process that ends on “Reveal Day,” Feb. 2, when Pennington will say, “Move that bus!”

To sign up as a volunteer or to donate supplies or money, go to: http://www.northfloridaextrememakeover.com. During the makeover, there will be a food drive to benefit The Food Pantry of Green Cove Springs and a blood drive.

A Clay family will get an ‘Extreme Makeover’
January 13, 2011 
By Christina Leach Phillips
Correspondent

ORANGE PARK — Clay County is rolling out the welcome mat for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” this month as host Ty Pennington brings out his bull horn to announce the family who will get a makeover of their home.

The Show is considering five in-need Clay County families, and the winning family’s name and location will remain a mystery until the week of Jan. 24 when Pennington and the show’s team of designers will surprise them. In the meantime, local builders are gearing up and looking for volunteers.

To kick off the Extreme Makeover, a community pep rally will be held Jan. 18 at Christ’s Church, 5900 U.S. 17, Fleming Island. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the rally will include a collection for the Food Pantry of Green Cove Springs. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is aired on ABC channels on Sundays at 8 p.m.

J.A. Long Design Builders of Orange Park and Ark Remodeling and Construction of Gainesville, which built a house for an Extreme Makeover in Gainesville in 2009, were chosen as contractors for the project.

“We need just about everything,” said Randy Long, chief operating officer at J.A. Long. “Right now, we need a lot of help with concrete supplies, we need electricians, but we also need basic general volunteers who want to get involved — food, beverages, tents, traffic control, operating machines, anything.”

“We have so many different things that need to get done, so there are so many different jobs for unskilled volunteers who just want to be a part of the community and help out a great family,” he said.

The construction starts Jan. 27 and goes through Feb. 3, said Long, noting that it is a week-long build, but the actual construction portion is only 106 hours.

“It’s a great opportunity and a great adventure and something that will be fun to take on. But, obviously there is a certain amount of fear involved in building a house 24 hours a day in only 106 hours, where they often take six months,” he said.

All materials and labor are donated, and Long said some subcontractors are donating their labor and trying to get the materials for free from their vendors.

“Some of the stuff — like the lumber package or the doors that go in the house — they cost a lot of money. It’s not easy to get all that donated since basically the housing industry is struggling right now,” he said.

According to Long, there are many other donated items needed for the massive project including food, and the call is out for restaurants and caterers who want to donate meals for volunteers. Also, money is needed to purchase supplies that are not donated, and any unused money will go to the family, Long said.

April Strickland, chief Ffinancial officer at Ark Remodeling and Construction, said both builders have been meeting to coordinate the project, and they recently visited Brevard County to observe another Extreme Makeover in progress.

“There’s no definition of roles — we’re just trying to get it done for the family we are going to be building for. Things happen so fast that whoever can get it done first is how it shakes out,” said Strickland.

She said her company’s previous Extreme Makeover for the Wagstaff family from Gainesville, was “amazing.”

“It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had. It’s amazing to be able to meet so many people who want to help, and they are all there for the same mindset,” Strickland said. “I’ve probably met some of my best friends on that build, and I’m still friends with them today.”

Strickland said for the Clay County makeover they are looking for “anyone who can hold a hammer, anyone who can sweep, anyone who just wants to help.”

“When the houses are finished, they are really nice — a finished product. As overwhelming as it may seem, it really does happen, and you see it happen as you are standing out there,” she said.

To sign up as a volunteer or to donate supplies or money, visit the website at: http://www.northfloridaextrememakeover.com or contact J.A. Long at (904) 264-3073.