Student Volunteers Help Build Home
First-year student volunteers spend their Saturday morning helping build a much-needed
September 1, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –Not everyone can be on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, however this year several Illinois Wesleyan University students received the opportunity
to participate in the show’s latest renovation. On August 18th, the program began
filming its latest project.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition surprises deserving families by demolishing their old home and building a new one
in its place in just one week. It requires shifts of hundreds of volunteers, as well
as designers and a local construction crew to work from early morning until late at
night to complete the task.
The Montgomery family from Philo, a town nine miles south of Urbana, Ill., was selected
to receive this new house and was selected for its contributions to the community.
The winning homeowner, Nathan Montgomery, a former engineer, gave up his career to
start a food pantry and clothing bank called “Salt & Light” in Champaign. The pantry
helps feed over 250 families and provides clothing for over 300 families.
Dean of Students Kathy Cavins joined a group of first-year students who volunteered
Extreme Makeover house in Philo.
Bevin Cowie, a senior sociology major from Braidwood, Ill., was one of 18 Illinois
Wesleyan students that volunteered along with Illinois Wesleyan’s Vice President for
Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Kathy Cavins. The students helped keep the
site clean, move bricks, and supply lunch and water to the other volunteers. As Site
Coordinator, Cowie was given a list of tasks that she could then delegate to other
volunteers to help her.
Cowie, who hoped to work two full days at the renovation site, twisted her ankle early
on the second evening. She stepped into a rut while carrying a 24-pack of Gatorade.
Despite the injury, she came away with the feeling that, “To see the ‘before’ on site
and the ‘after’ in the local paper was really astounding, and I’m glad I was able
to be a part of it,” said Cowie.
Another student volunteer, Amanda Murray, a sophomore psychology major from Bloomington,
was at the construction site because she wanted to help Brady Homes, the company of
her best friend’s father that built the house.
Arriving on site, Murray said the volunteers were divided into skilled and unskilled
workers with a strong focus on their abilities and/or capabilities such as carpentry,
plumbing and wiring.
Murray’s tasks were many and varied from clearing a room after it was dry-walled,
sweeping, and passing water out to other workers. According to Murray, her experience
has inspired her to start a food drive at her sorority, Kappa Delta, where she has
encouraged the members to make donations. Besides food and clothing, Murray has also
collected money to help the family make their mortgage payments.
Murray has decided to continue to help the family by having a food and clothing drive
every six months to help support the pantry.
Contact: Monica Piotrowski, ’10, (309) 556-3181