Family gets first look at their new home

Jackie Ricciardi/staff
Family enjoys the moment
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Ty Pennington welcomes home the Graham family before their house was unveiled Wednesday.   Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Ty Pennington welcomes home the Graham family before their house was unveiled Wednesday.

For the past decade, Earnie Graham has devoted her life to bringing joy to Girl Scouts. For the past seven days, more than 100 organizations and hundreds more volunteers devoted their time to turning her life on its head.

When she viewed the new two-story home that replaced her incomplete, unheated, termite-infested home for the first time Wednesday afternoon, she fell into her children's arms and erupted in tears.

"I couldn't hear very well, but I could see her reaction and her tears of joy," said volunteer Theresa Von Plinsky.

Although Von Plinsky said her only skills were being an "unskilled mom," she knew she wanted to be a part of the magic she witnesses on the ABC television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition every week.

Chip Parkinson admitted to tearing up when he saw the look on the family's face.

The truck driver, who lives in Jackson, took off work to help build the home. Despite the below-normal temperatures, he slept in his vehicle at the construction site Tuesday night. After all, he said, the construction crews needed help and the 45-minute drive home just didn't seem worth it.

The last week has been exciting for the Graham family. On Dec. 2, they were told to pack their bags and head to Disneyland. When they arrived back in Augusta on Tuesday, Graham discovered she had a new vehicle, a 2011 Ford Explorer, and that a new cabin had been built at Camp Tanglewood in Martinez that would allow for handicapped Girl Scouts to take part in activities.

Hundreds of friends and supporters lined the streets Wednesday afternoon for the reveal, some waiting in the below-normal temperatures for eight hours.

When she arrived at her familiar lot at 161 McCain Way, she noticed little that was familar -- except for a few concrete blocks.

Five years ago, her father and brother started a two-story addition on her home. However, after her father got cancer and her brother died, the concrete structure was left unfinished.

Although construction crews chose to bulldoze the old home, they opted to save the concrete blocks that were sentimental to the Graham family and integrate them into the construction, as a wall and planters surrounding the house.

Graham, her 22-year-old daughter, Tiffany, and her 10-year-old son, T.J., will officially spend their first night in the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home tonight.

Steven Beazley, the president of Bill Beazley Homes, said when Extreme Makeover approached his company in October about the project, he wasn't interested because his mother was ill at the time, and later died. It was after the death when the show re-approached him that he decided he needed to do it -- for his mother.

Now, there's not a doubt in his mind that it was the right decision.

"This is the greatest experience of my life," Beazley said after the completion of the project. "I could sell 1,000 houses or travel around the world, but it wouldn't compare to this."

It did get nerve-racking at times, such as when the hardwood flooring delivery was delayed by 12 hours because the delivery truck broke down.

"It's really tiring," Beazley said. "Everything is on a time limit so you never get a break."

Graham's neighbors also got a helping hand. Many received new mailboxes and roofs. Graham's sister-in-law, Monica, whose husband helped start the addition five years ago, received new siding, a roof and a new porch -- and will get cabinets for her home.

Beazley said he plans to revisit the Graham home with Christmas decorations.

Originally, he asked that the home be fully decorated but was told that because the show won't air until February, decorations just didn't fit.

Graham has been offered a scholarship by the University of Phoenix, where she is enrolled, to complete her bachelor's degree and receive a graduate degree of her choice.

Both of her children have also been offered full scholarships at Paine College.

The mortgage company, which cannot be named, has also agreed to pay off her mortgage.

Comments (16) Add comment
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Batman
18
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Batman 12/08/10 - 06:38 pm
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A very nice Christmas gift.

A very nice Christmas gift. Merry Christmas to anyone involved and to the deserving family.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 12/08/10 - 08:07 pm
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This has to be the most

This has to be the most positive story I've seen on the AC in a while. Blessings to this family and to all who helped out.

Doyougetitnow
4
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Doyougetitnow 12/08/10 - 08:32 pm
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This was emotional to watch.

This was emotional to watch. I'm so happy for this family. God made it possible and they are very deserving. They are so blessed!

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 12/09/10 - 01:00 pm
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Although the mailing/property

Although the mailing/property address is recorded as 161 "McCain Way" the GIS map and the street sign both say "McCann Way". The only apparent "mortgage company" for the EGL property at that location is named at http://mapweb.augustaga.gov/augusta/allSales.aspx?ObjectID=20867 and it can't be a very efficient one if it paid the taxes late for 7 of the last 8 years http://mapweb.augustaga.gov/augusta/taxInfo.aspx?ObjectID=20867.

Cadence
219
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Cadence 12/09/10 - 11:04 am
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This is a very nice story.

This is a very nice story. Sounds like the whole neighborhood got a boost.

purmkinhed
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purmkinhed 12/09/10 - 01:11 pm
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Congrats to the Graham

Congrats to the Graham family! May God bless and keep you happy, healthy and wise in your beautiful new home! Merry Christmas!

Discussionstarter
467
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Discussionstarter 12/09/10 - 04:30 pm
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I loved participating; I went

I loved participating; I went back again this morning to help clean up the neighborhood. My only disappointment with the whole project was the coordination; alot of volunteers stood around due to lack of direction.

bdouglas
4530
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bdouglas 12/09/10 - 05:59 pm
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@Discussionstarter: I imagine

@Discussionstarter: I imagine that's the case at most of their builds. Lots and lots of people want to get involved when it's the TV show makeover...lots of unskilled labor. Not in a derogatory sense, but just people who showed up just wanting to help that don't know how to work with tools or do some of the jobs needed there. If you've got to "train" every one of them it becomes easier just to keep using the people already helping or do it yourself.

Imagine how efficient other local projects by Habitat and others would be if even 1/4 of the volunteers showed up for those as did for the TV show...

Wonder why they won't name the mortgage company that paid off her mortgage?

Doyougetitnow
4
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Doyougetitnow 12/09/10 - 06:08 pm
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At least they paid the taxes.

At least they paid the taxes. My company (which is a major one) does the same thing, they're on their schedule, not the county's. I think it has something to do with the escrow monies. Something like, if they finance the house in June & the taxes are due in January, they won't pay them til the following June. I think.

mybaskett
218
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mybaskett 12/09/10 - 08:34 pm
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Marty-me this woman applied

Marty-me this woman applied for the show and she was chosen. Eventhough she works a full time job it may not pay a living wage. Other than that, this women gives of her time unselfishly. People who volunteer and look for nothing in return are rewarded in so many ways. This is her reward. God is Good !!!!!!!

marty_me
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marty_me 12/09/10 - 08:55 pm
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I am being deleted for

I am being deleted for expressing an opinion. I was responding to Brandi's post. I didn't say they were on welfare and food stamps. I actually was questioning if that was the case. However, I do appreciate the censorship. I am all about God's reward. I was asking what made them the best canidate. Also, when you volunteer for your employer, it is WORK, you are getting paid for it, and I can assure you it is not minimum wage. I am not saying they are bad people, but there are plenty more who are in much more deserving cirmustances. I'm not making stuff up or talking bad about this family, just stating an opinion.

happycampergirl
0
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happycampergirl 12/10/10 - 01:20 am
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marty_me when you work a job

marty_me when you work a job that you actually volunteer for, you get paid the minimum wage if any. I know people on staff & they get paid nothing. & the smiles on the girls faces keep them coming back. By the time you eat & put gas in your car, with the running around for the girls it is volunteer work. I understand you not trying to say anything bad about the family but until you volunteer with a large area (Downtown, South side, Lakeside, Evans, Greenbrier, Harlem & Ft. Gordon just to name some areas) of girls especially around cookie time you may not understand why she was picked for this Home Extreme Makeover. GOD is good all the time....

happycampergirl
0
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happycampergirl 12/10/10 - 01:20 am
0
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marty_me when you work a job

marty_me when you work a job that you actually volunteer for, you get paid the minimum wage if any. I know people on staff & they get paid nothing. & the smiles on the girls faces keep them coming back. By the time you eat & put gas in your car, with the running around for the girls it is volunteer work. I understand you not trying to say anything bad about the family but until you volunteer with a large area (Downtown, South side, Lakeside, Evans, Greenbrier, Harlem & Ft. Gordon just to name some areas) of girls especially around cookie time you may not understand why she was picked for this Home Extreme Makeover. GOD is good all the time....

Indigo
4
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Indigo 12/14/10 - 08:58 am
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I think its great they do

I think its great they do this for families and I am thrilled for these folks.

I do, however, feel the network should pay the cost for the project, including the time spent by local officials. Face it, this is a money-making event, its not charity. Why do the taxpayers of ARC have to pay so ABC can make another billion dollars? That parts just not right. Again, this is not a charity show, they make money on it............LOTS.

Curlie56
9
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Curlie56 12/18/10 - 05:35 pm
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Augusta-Richmond County (ARC)

Augusta-Richmond County (ARC) needs all of the positive publicity it can get, so if they have to shed a few dollars to get it, so be it. I have been stationed around the world, and this has to be by far ONE of the most wretched cities I have ever been stationed. This local government is off the chain...and the actual citizens continue to sit back and allow this behavior! So if the county paid the taxes for this Extreme Makeover, at least it was for a worthy cause for an actual tax paying citizen...behind or not...and not a personal cause for the mayor etc! Thank GOD it was something done for a voter!

AutumnLeaves
6076
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AutumnLeaves 07/20/13 - 09:41 pm
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I volunteered..

I don't know any moms that are unskilled. I am quite certain the reporter misunderstood what Mrs. Vonplinsky said.

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