Extreme Volunteering

Posted on Oct 1, 2010 :: Down Time
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Photo by Margaret LeBrun

When Dave Boreren learned his employer, Keller Inc., was a sponsor of the latest Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project going up in Neenah, he looked at his schedule and got to work. He talked with other members of his crew and together they decided to shift their workweek by a day so they could be available to volunteer for the project.

“It’s such an amazing project to be a part of,” Boreren says, who also helped on an Extreme Makeover build in Fond du Lac County a few years ago. “There’s such a fast turnaround. You turn away for 10 minutes, you look back again and it looks completely different.”

Boreren and his co-worker, Brian Chynowetz, watched the concrete crew finalize the foundation before it was their turn to get to work, putting trusses into place. “This has just been amazing to be a part of,” Boreren says. “We appreciate Keller letting us change our schedule and come out here.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the Extreme Makeover team rides into town on a bus, surprises a family with the announcement that their home will be completely rebuilt in a week and ships them out to Disney World. Once the family is out of town, thousands of volunteers get to work on the new home. Lexington Homes of Green Bay – the builder of the Neenah home – led the way by getting out the word to other businesses to attract volunteers and corporate donors, who provide funds to support the construction project.

More than 3,000 volunteers signed up for the project, which is one of the highest numbers ever for an Extreme build. Not everyone involved is a skilled construction employee, but that didn’t matter. Volunteers were put to work doing a variety of duties, from helping move food and beverages into the volunteer tent to helping feed all those involved, to picking up trash from the construction site. (A little inside information: labels have to be pulled off each donated water bottle since ABC prohibits any logos or advertising on the show. So yes, some intrepid volunteers were assigned that duty.)

Lisa Prunty, manager of public relations at Wisconsin Public Service in Green Bay, is friends with the owners of Lexington Homes and couldn’t wait to sign up to help when she heard about the big build.

“I truly believe in giving back to the community and thought this was something I couldn’t pass up volunteering on,” says Prunty, who took three days of vacation to do a mish-mash of onsite duties that didn’t include swinging a hammer. “I believe whatever you do will come back to you ten-fold and hope that if I was ever in a situation like that and needed help that someone would help me.”

Prunty says she met lots of other people in the community through her volunteer work and has fun sharing photos and stories about their experiences.

Caroline Lasecki volunteered her entire week arranging the catering and set-up for the VIP tent where corporate sponsors gathered and watched the build.

“This is the coolest thing and I just wanted to do my part. When my feet start to hurt – and they do since these are long days – I just think of the family and everything they’ve been through and I tell myself I can get through it,” she says.

Scott Manteufel, an electrician with Faith Technologies in Menasha, has watched Extreme Makeover for years and couldn’t pass up the chance to work on the Neenah house. He helped with electrical contracting work on Monday and Wednesday nights – after already putting in full days at other job sites.

“I made it work. It was a bit tiring, but I couldn’t miss the chance to work on something like this,” he says. “It was incredible to be there and to be a part of it all. I always told my wife I wanted to volunteer on that show so I’m excited I actually had the opportunity.”