Ron Wells was
a volunteer contractor that help rebuild Bridgeport minister and mother
of three Gloria Brown home in Bridgeport, Ct. Gloria tears up on Wednesday,
July 25, as the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” team announces it will
rebuild her home, which was destroyed by a fire a year ago.
As the sun stretched its sleepy fingers over Bridgeport's Hollister Avenue Wednesday, July 25, it threw a spotlight on the charred shell Gloria Brown and her three children once called home. Just a block away, in a rental, the family was preparing for another day, one sure to revolve around the church, the community center and the local radio station.
Little did she know that creeping toward her family at that moment was an exuberant carpenter armed with a bullhorn and a ravenous gang of designers with secret plans to ship the Browns across the country and turn their lives upside down — or more accurately, right side up.
The Emmy award winning series is devoted to rebuilding the homes of struggling or grieving families who are in need of hope and a helping hand. For added excitement, the tearjerker features a race against time as hundreds of volunteers and ABC’s design team rebuild the houses in less than a week.
“The generous and loving support shown by the community during the past week makes it clear that the Brown family was indeed deserving of their new home,” “After all of the work that this family puts into their community, it seems fitting that the community responded so anxiously to give back to the Browns and, for a change, allow them to enjoy the fruits of the hard work, passion and conviction that they so readily supply for others.”
Ms. Brown had worked hard to pull her family out of the projects, seeking a better life for her three teenage children — sisters Bobbi, 17, and Janae, 14, and their 16-year-old brother, Fred. But not long after investing in a fixer-upper in the East End of Bridgeport, the English Chapel Cathedral of Miracles minister saw it devastated first by a flood, then by a fire — from which she escaped with minor chest burns after Fred knocked down the door that trapped her inside — and finally by burglars who stripped the home of its remaining valuables.
The family kept on working in the community after the ordeal. Gloria and Bobbi host a radio show aimed at giving local teens a positive voice. Fred and Janae also help out at the station, and the family teaches programs at both its church and community center.
Bobbi is the youth president of the local NAACP, and Gloria founded an annual Bridgeport community festival, which brings neighbors out of their homes with the goal of turning strangers into friends. “They continued to do exactly what they were doing prior to the tragedy. They never missed a beat,”
More than 3,000 people were interested in helping the Browns — who were sent on a California vacation to await the unveiling. On Friday, July 27 — also known to fans of the show as “Demolition Day” — a sea of hundreds of tool-wielding volunteers descended upon the house, which was about to meet its fate, in the customary “Braveheart March.”
As the final wall crashed to the dirt that afternoon, it marked the beginning of round-the-clock construction. Though sleep-deprived, sweltering and sometimes wet, Ron and the workers pulled through 130 hours of “daylight,” made possible by stadium lighting surrounding the site at 285 Hollister Avenue.
“It’s one of those projects that you believe in and you know you have a good team behind you and they know what they’re doing. The wonderful thing about it is every time a hole opened up there was somebody there to fill it. The enthusiasm from Ron and the other subcontractors, the vendors and the community was outstanding.”
When the Brown family returned to the site of their house Wednesday, Aug. 1, they found a large Victorian, designed by Danbury architect Leigh Overland, sitting in its place. The Brown family also received three four-year scholarships to Western State Connecticut University, and watched as Barnum Financial Group of Shelton tore up its mortgage for the new house.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell proclaimed Thursday, Aug. 2, “Brown Family Day.” and Ron was proud to be a part of it all, he has memories that will last a lifetime.
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