From IWU Magazine, Fall 2009
Alumni and students help make a new home for area family.
By RACHEL HATCH
Photos by MARC FEATHERLY
“It's a barn-raising of the 21st century," said Ed Brady ’85 (above left) at a press
conference announcing the completion of a house for a Philo, Ill., family (shown at
right) who were chosen to receive a much-needed new home by the ABC TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Brady’s construction company, Brady Homes, donated labor and resources to construct
the house, visible in the background.
With a deafening cry, hundreds of volunteers charged to destroy a worn down home in
Philo, Ill. Helping lead the charge was Illinois Wesleyan alumnus Ed Brady ’85. His
act was one with charitable intentions. The owners of the demolished house had been
chosen to receive a new home by the popular ABC television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and Brady’s construction company, Brady Homes, was selected as the local building
sponsor to donate his company’s labor and resources.
The television show chooses deserving families to receive a new home. Under the leadership
of a local construction crew, the old home is razed and a new one built in about a
week. For the home in Philo, shifts of construction workers and volunteers ran from
6 a.m. to midnight in order to construct the house in seven days, a task that usually
takes four months.
A total of 18 IWU students volunteered to help in the project, along with Illinois
Wesleyan’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Kathy Cavins. The
students helped keep the site clean, moved bricks and supplied lunch and water to
the other volunteers.
Chosen for the show was the family of Nathan Montgomery, a former engineer who gave
up a lucrative career to start the Salt & Light pantry which provides food, clothing
and ministry to around 250 families in and near Philo, located southeast of Champaign.
The completed home was revealed to the Montgomery family in August. The episode is
scheduled to air this fall.
“This entire project is about the family, about communities coming together to provide
food and shelter,” said Brady. “The Brady family is honored and happy to give back
to this family who has given so much of themselves for others.”
Bill Brady ’83 and wife Nancy ’82 volunteer in the food tent, which Nancy helped organize.
The small town of Philo is often described as “a family” by its residents. The analogy
hit home with Brady, whose business is a family affair. Founded in 1964 by Bill Brady
Sr., the construction side of Brady Homes is run by Brady and his brother Bob. A third
brother — 1983 IWU alumnus and Illinois State Senator Bill Brady Jr. — oversees the
real-estate side of the business. Bill’s wife, Nancy (True) Brady, is a 1982 Wesleyan
Support for the project has been pouring in, said Ed Brady, who noted more than $300,000
in goods and services had been gifted to the project by area businesses, while both
State Farm Insurance Companies and COUNTRY Financial have been holding food drives
for the Salt & Light pantry. More than 7,500 people have posted as fans of the Brady
Homes Facebook site and the Brady Homes Web site. The sites offer visitors updates
of the construction, and also links to ways people can get involved — from food shopping
lists for the pantry, to blood drives in Bloomington and Philo.
Click here to read more about Brady Homes’ involvement in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.