This Old House to the Rescue!
The staff of TOH, along with friends and family, put their skills to good use doing a 24-hour house transformation during an annual charity event.
TOH's work for AmeriCares Homefront Day—an annual fixup day organized by the international
relief group to help low-income and elderly homeowners maintain their homes—usually starts a few days earlier with some advance prep. Deputy art director John Taylor (foreground) and online producer Timothy Dahl made repairs to an existing wheelchair ramp so dozens of workers would be able to stand on it when the big day came.
The actual day started off with some simple yardwork, as Michael Stolper, assistant to the editor, climbed
up a tree to improve the homeowner's view from her living room.
Homeowner Mary McQuillan watched the day's activity from her living room chair. Severe arthritis had practically confined Mary to the chair—she had been sleeping there for months while waiting for the house to be fixed so a hospital bed could be delivered.
This Old House magazine's editor, Scott Omelianuk, trims a shingle before installing it. Meanwhile, master carpenter Norm
Abram works out measurements with Kevin Jarvi, regional sales manager for Kleer Lumber, which donated enough PVC trim
boards to replace all the fascia on the house. (Kevin also donated his time, and ended up staying later than most of the volunteers.)
Copy chief Leslie Monthan checked the fit on one of the dozens of shingles she replaced during siding duty.
Norm showed editorial assistant Harry Sawyers the proper way to proper
way to install a gutter before the two moved on to fastening the next section of fascia to the house.
This Old House producer Chris
Dick—who, like Norm and host Kevin
O'Connor, travelled 3 1/2 hours from Boston to Southern Connecticut to work with his colleagues—spent a good part of the day on gutter duty.
TOH host Kevin
O'Connor trimmed a post for the railing he and his crew assembled to finish a wheelchair ramp.
Tom Beusse, president of Time4 Media (the division of Time Warner that includes TOH), nailed a new railing into the wheelchair ramp while project editor Jason Carpenter lent his weight to hold the piece steady.
Staff friend Jim Boehm spent the day installing nearly 20 storm
windows around the house. Here he scraped paint off the newly coated windows to prep for a new unit. Behind him, fresh, clean PVC
fascia and shiny gutters crowned the house.
Keisha Garrison, associate manager for sales development, and Emily Taff, staff friend, were two thirds of a team that managed to paint Mary's bedroom, hallway, and living room—with her in it—before the day was through.
painting was the biggest job of the project. As the day waned, everyone grabbed a brush. On the left, Beth Bingham, another staff friend, and Judith Ippolito, mother of the magazine's editor and a pro painter herself, worked the place up and down. On the right, editorial assistant Ashley Womble, intern-turned-editorial assistant Natalie Rodriguez, and art/production assistant Robert Hardin raise their brushes in unison to get the job done.
TOH contributor Mark Feirer finishes off some patchwork around a door he's just finished widening. Feirer's 16-year-old son, Zack, also joined the work crew for the second year in a row.
Mary's bathtub was too high for her to step into, so the advance crew (including Robert Hardin, left) demolished it. Then tile contractors Fred Bellucci and Nick Barone volunteered three days' time to install a disabled-access shower
system donated by Schluter Systems. On Homefront Day, Jason Grant from Steve
Basso Plumbing, Heating & A/C, another volunteer pro, installed a handheld
showerhead given to Mary by Price Pfister.
Editorial operations director Carolyn Blackmar put her (considerable) muscle into creating a new plant bed that Mary can see from her kitchen window. All the shrubs and trees were donated by L&L Evergreen, a local nursery, whose resident landscape architect, Dave Rosa, spent the day digging and planting alongside the volunteers.
Local pros selflessly gave their time on the jobsite just for the chance to meet the famous Norm Abram. Here, carpenter Eddie McAleese and electricians John Cortese and Louis Gabriele talk boating with Norm. Gabriele's crew spent the week working after-hours to rewire Mary's entire house, and he, Cortese, and another friend, Eugene Molgano (all master electricians with their own companies), spend Homefront day finishing up the job.
Mary's kitchen was crowded and inefficient until the crew gave it a makeover. On one side, a barely functioning range was replaced with a larger
one donated by Maytag
through The Home Depot. The rickety sink faucet went away in favor of a Price Pfister pull-out
model, which will be easier for Mary to use.
Early in the day (left) the task ahead looked daunting—though the crew from Gault,
Inc., a local stoneyard, was way ahead of the game in their paver
walkway installation. But by the time the sun was dipping low in the sky, the house looked transformed (right), with fresh paint; new storms, gutters, fascia, plants, and lattice; and a lot of helpful amenties for Mary inside.