Makeover helped neighbor's homes, too

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Traffic has picked up in the Belle Terrace neighborhood, but everything else seems to have gotten back to normal.

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Monica Graham's home also was repaired by the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition volunteers, who constructed a new house for her sister-in-law Earnie Graham.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Monica Graham's home also was repaired by the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition volunteers, who constructed a new house for her sister-in-law Earnie Graham.

"Ever since (the Extreme Makeover home) was revealed, every day, all day, at 3 o'clock in the morning, people are taking pictures," said Monica Graham, a relative and next-door neighbor to the makeover family.

Extreme Makeover crews and more than 4,000 volunteers took over several blocks surrounding the site of a small yellow home at 161 McCain Way on Dec. 2.

It was a dream-come-true for Earnie Graham and her two children, ages 10 and 22. The family had started an addition on the home five years ago, but after the sudden loss of Earnie's brother, who had been helping with construction, the addition was left unfinished.

Now comfortably settled into their "Extreme" home, Earnie said they're still adjusting to their new life and savoring the small moments -- such as enjoying the stars through the skylight, sliding through the home in their socks Risky Business -style and seeing the neighborhood children ride their new bikes down the street.

"We're still pinching ourselves," she said.

But volunteers touched more than Earnie's heart. They touched the hearts of many of her neighbors.

Betty Gonder, who lives across the street, got new shingles and boards on her old roof.

"I needed it, too," she said. "I enjoyed everyone and was sad to see them go."

Other neighbors found comfort in the presence of so many people, who worked around the clock in their neighborhood.

"I kind of missed them when they left," Lydon Huff said. "Everything was really safe. You didn't even have to lock your doors."

Security worked 24 hours a day and residents were given ID badges to get through the barricades to their home.

"It was hell getting to my house, but it was for a worthy cause," said neighbor Michael Drumgoole, standing outside his home in a blue Extreme Makeover T-shirt. "I'm just glad the good Lord found a way to take care of her."

Drumgoole got a new mailbox, along with many other neighbors.

Some got their yards resodded, but Drumgoole turned down that offer. He said he enjoyed his yard as it is now -- not too thick and not a constant problem during the hot Augusta summers.

Crews also helped fix up the home of Earnie's sister-in-law, Monica Graham. They replaced boards, installed siding, and repaired the chimney, lights and windows.

She said Bill Beazley homes, the sponsor of the Extreme Makeover project, has already made plans to come back and finish more projects inside the house.

"Everyone said the neighborhood looks better," said Agnes Huff, who has lived there since 1961.

Local 'Makeover,' neighborhood special airs tonight

ABOUT THE FAMILY: In December, Extreme Makeover crews, with the help of more than 4,000 volunteers, built a new house for Earnie Graham and her two children, ages 10 and 22, on McCain Way. The family had started an addition on the home five years ago, but after the sudden loss of Earnie's brother the addition was left unfinished.

WATCH THE SHOW: Watch the Graham family on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition from 8-9 tonight on ABC. Regular programming will be pre-empted from 7-8 p.m. for a behind-the-scenes story of the week in Belle Terrace, the Graham's neighborhood.

COMING SUNDAY: See photos of the inside of the Grahams' new home, and read more about how the makeover experience has affected their lives.

MORE ONLINE: Take a look back at the project with videos and photos from the home's demolition, construction and reveal at augustachronicle.com">style="bold">augustachronicle.com .

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