UT Family Pitches in to Build ‘Extreme Makeover’ Home for Local Couple

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KNOXVILLE— The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, family pitched in to help build a home for a local couple, courtesy of the ABC-TV program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

The work began January 11 and continued into this week. The big reveal is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, January 18.

UT staff and students joined hundreds of other area volunteers moving dirt, carrying concrete forms and building the walls of the house on Robinson Road in West Knoxville for Daniel and Mandy Watson and their three adopted children.

“It gives you a good feeling to know that so many people are willing to take time out of their lives to do something for somebody else,” said Jack Harvey, a senior print shop specialist at UT Graphic Arts Service.

On Thursday, Harvey worked two shifts, from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and then 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. The work included framing and removing metal forms off concrete.

“I’ve just always wanted to do this,” he said. “I’ve watched the show for years, and I’m glad they brought it to Knoxville so I could be a part of it.”

The build includes a home for the Watsons and a duplex to serve their charity, Restoration House of East Tennessee, which gives single mothers and their children a place to live while they get their lives back in order.

Lee Hume, senior design director in the UT Office of Communications and Marketing, spent seven hours Thursday carrying hay bales, pre-fabricated walls, and steel and doing whatever else was needed.

“It was gratifying to see that mass of humanity helping out,” Hume said. “In spite of the mud, muck, rain, and cold, there wasn’t anyone complaining.”

On Sunday, about fifty members of the Kappa Delta sorority volunteered from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. moving cabinets and performing other odd jobs.

“We’re all absolutely thrilled to get the chance to help build a beautiful home for such a deserving Knoxville family,” said Chelsea Raschke, the sorority’s vice president of public relations.

Last week, UT hosted a mini-parade in the Watsons’ honor. The procession ran along Phillip Fulmer Way in front of the stadium and included several Thanksgiving-themed hot air balloons. The program is scheduled to air this Thanksgiving on ABC-TV.

The Watsons have other UT connections.

Last year, Daniel Watson, in his role as executive director of Restoration House, served as a project sponsor and mentor to a team of five students in the MBA Innovation in Practice course through the UT College of Business Administration.

The MBA team’s challenge was to identify future housing sources for the low-income single mothers the organization serves.

“Our experience with the students and professors was nothing short of tremendous,” Daniel Watson said previously about the experience. “We would have had a hard time paying someone to receive the same level of results as we did through this partnership.”

C O N T A C T :

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lola.alapo@tennessee.edu)

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