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Local business owners fondly remember 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' experiences

By Amanda Lemon and Cory Garwacki Staff Interns "I would compare the experience to childbirth. It was painful, but rewarding," Kevin Fall related of his recent experience with hit show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Fall, who runs Servepro of Hampshire County, was one of the business owners who volunteered their services during the recent makeover of a Suffield, Conn., family's home as part of the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" television series. With the dust now settled, Reminder Publications asked several of the participating businesses their impressions of the experience. Fall's recollection of his hectic days spent on site emphasized the major challenge of the entire project too much work and too little time. His role in the process, post-construction clean-up, was executed in two phases, separated by hours of waiting around for others to complete their work. Fall and his team swept through the house immediately upon completion of construction, then once more when all of the belongings had been moved back into the house. "We had to sort of dance around everyone else, who were all running behind schedule," Fall explained. So great was the time crunch that the clean-up team wasn't even able to meet the family whose home they had just helped to build. "We were the very last people in the house, just before the family came in," Fall continued. "Literally, they were coming in the front as we were hurrying out the back." Another local to get involved in the project was painter Gary Clarke, owner of Masterpiece Finishes. He told a similar tale on the site he called "mass confusion." "We got there early Friday morning and spent a lot of time sitting around waiting," he recalled. "There was a lot of work and very little time." Clarke, who admitted he would probably do the whole thing again, is no stranger to volunteer work. He has participated in numerous community projects, many in the Florida area. Of this particular project, he had only one critique, pertaining to the hurried efforts to complete the house on time. "If it was my house, I would want them to stop early and let me finish myself," Clarke stated. "I'm sure it all looked good for the camera from a distance, but close up I'd say there are some things that need to be touched up." All troubles aside, both Fall and Clarke tell of an ultimately positive experience doing good in the community. Fall concluded, "It was really nice to be able to do something to help a deserving family." Jim Patenaude, the owner of Alternative Telecommunications, and Jim White of Go-Graphix were two of the other businesspeople who volunteered their time and resources. "All too often we get so focused on growing the business that we tend to lose sight of the personal side of what we do," White said. "I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many incredibly talented people. The show's production crew did a fantastic job," White remarked. Adding to White's sentiments, Patenaude said, "I guess the most rewarding aspect in all of this is the personal satisfaction of knowing that we were able to help our community in such a big way." Patenaude and his crew were in charge of installing the fire alarms and carbon dioxide detectors in the home. Additionally, his crew set up new Internet and telephone system technology for the family's home. "I had three generations working alongside me on this project," Patenaude said, of his son's and father's participation in the build. "Our entire crew was just so lucky to have had the opportunity to be involved in such a great event," he commented. "Our involvement with the extreme home makeover project started with a call from Kent [Pecoy] asking if we would like to help out with the build," White said White. "I immediately agreed." Much of the work that was done by workers of Go-Graphix was displayed in anticipation of the show's "Braveheart March." "The Braveheart March" is the name given to the part of the show where all of the volunteers proudly march up the street to the family. According to information released by Go-Graphix, their crew used a total of 361 banners, signs, posters and flags throughout the build site. In addition to setting up all of their signs, their efforts stretched to a distance of just over one half mile of banners. The one thing that both Patenaude and White seemed to agree on was the overwhelming feeling of "team spirit" that surrounded the site every day. Both men proudly commented that if there are any future opportunities of this magnitude, they would do so without hesitation. "The only thing I ask is that I have some time to catch my breath before any new projects of this size come up," White said jokingly. "Give me at least a year for things to settle down for me. Two years, even."

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