Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in St. James, NY
Renee standing in front of the original Vitale family home
On Monday, March 14, 2005 someone on my local radio station called in (while they were talking about the previous nites Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show) and mentioned that the “design” team were going to be doing a house on Long Island, specifically St. James, NY, which is located in the county of Suffolk about 50 miles (or so) outside of NYC.
I spend the better part of Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday trying to figure out any information about the show (and the reasons why they were coming).
In my searches, I discovered the site “jokersupdates.com” and found out the builders name & the official Press Release that they were doing an extreme makeover.
On Wednesday (March 16, 2005) after lunch, the builder’s website (Alure.com) changed to reflect that they released the name of the family & the address of the house.
Apparently, the Vitale family of St. James, NY was selected to receive an Extreme Makeover. The Vitale family consists of John (a Suffolk Country Police Officer) and his 3 boys. John’s wife, Ann-Marie died last August after a brief illness of Leukemia.
Immediately, I made plans to try & visit the house. I used Mapquest to find the house. I even called Alure to see if they needed anymore volunteers.
So, on Thursday, March 17, I made my first trip to the EM:HE site.
The house was still standing; demo was scheduled to begin Friday morning at around 8am!
There were not a lot of people standing around. The crew was milling about and getting ready for Demo that was too be done the next day. The crew was removing some trees and doing things with the cesspool. I would also assume that they were in the process of moving the family out of their house!
We didn’t stay too long, but enough to get some “before” shots of the house and some of the workers!
I put the pictures of the EM:HE up on my website (which Dreamer has stickied in the EM:HE forum).
The next day is Friday, the day of demolition. I was not planning on going to demo which was scheduled for 8am that morning!
Later in the afternoon, I received a phone call from my Mom. Apparently, she found out (from her former boss) that something was happening at the Port Jefferson Library.
Afterwards, I had learned that Paul Dimeo was filming in the library reading a story to some of the children.
So after “Happy Hour” on Friday, I came home and we decided to head up to the site to see if the house was framed out yet.
It was not framed yet, but probably close to 100 guys were working and getting it ready and working very hard to get it done.
There were no sightings of the design team, after speaking to some security guards, they told us that the design team had left for the evening and went back to their hotel room.
We only stayed at the site for a few minutes, it was cold & dark!
We made plans to visit the site Saturday morning to see how the house was doing.
We got to the house a bit later than anticipated on Saturday morning, closer to noon.
There were a lot more people on Saturday. The house was framed out and there was a flag on the roof of the house. Lots of people were milling about. I saw the “bus” in the driveway of a neighbor’s house.
We saw Paul Dimeo being filmed in front of some lumber and talking to the camera.
Ty was no where to be found, but eventually he came out and promptly went behind the lumber. He walked around the house for a little bit, but then went into the house.
We stayed around for about an hour and saw more of the house being built. There was a lot of action going on. Not too much of the cast was seen or came over to visit with the fans (which was fine, apparently they were talking earlier in the day!).
There were neighbors of the Vitale family selling raffles through the crowd for baskets that were lovingly put together for the family and all money that was donated was going back to the family!
We stayed for about an hour and left. We took more pictures than the other visits to the site! All pictures are up on my website!
The weekend continued and the newspapers were covering the Extreme Makeover that was going on in our town.
We found out that the house was completed on Tuesday. As a last minute decision, we decided to check out the house on Tuesday nite. The family was due to return home on Wednesday. We got to the house and the line to get in was amazing. There were LOTS of people there. Some of the neighbors were selling T-Shirts (again to get money for the family).
We past one of the neighbors lawns (and Bin City) where the belongings of the family. We saw the neighbors doing a collage of pictures for the family. My Mom started to cry when she saw that.
It took a good, long while to see the house. It was beautiful. We saw people going in & out, but none of the design team. Apparently Ty was running around, but we didn’t see it.
We did not stay that long. We saw a cute sign in front of the house that was put there by Alure Builders that said, “We Did it!”
I saw a swing set in the backyard and the porch was adorable!
We left shortly after seeing the house. We stayed about 15 minutes or so! I got some more pictures and we got home.
That was the last time I was at the house. I did not go to the reveal. It was a cold/rainy day and I don’t like that many crowds, but I’m sure it was fun!
So, that is my adventure of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition coming to Long Island!
If the design team comes to help out another family in need on Long Island, I’ll try & go again (within reason, of course!).
Thanks for listening to my story!
New home for the Vitale Family
Lots more EM:HE Vitale Family info and pictures can be found here on Jokerupdates - here
Renee's Personal EM:HE Site - here