Fresno home renovation uses biblical parable

September 18, 2009 

A group of local contractors is nearing completion of a Fresno home renovation project — and the home’s sale will benefit four central San Joaquin Valley nonprofit organizations helping the needy.

The project’s coordinator, Jeff Jacobson, says the 2,300-square-foot home on North Wishon Avenue was labeled a drug house and seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration five years ago. Then, the home was boarded up after a bank foreclosure last year.

Jacobson says an investor bought the property with the idea of making the repairs, reselling the home and donating much of the proceeds to the nonprofits: Evangelicals for Social Action, Fresno Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity and Poverello House.

Although the work won’t be completed until next week, the home is sold.

Jacobson says the project caught the attention of the area’s faith community because the renovation is based on Matthew 25:14-28, a parable in which Jesus teaches people to give their time, talent and treasure to God and others.

Dubbed the “Time, Talent, Treasure Project,” more than 50 contractors and businesses have donated their time and materials toward the renovation. About 40 members of The Well Community Church and New Harvest Church in Clovis also worked on the landscaping during a volunteer day Aug. 29.

Inside, the home’s wooden floors and walls have been restored to their original finish and texture. The home’s kitchen also has been expanded and equipped with new appliances, cabinets and granite countertops.

“The home had been trashed; walls had been kicked in,” Jacobson says. “Neighbors were hoping and praying something good would happen — and along we came.”

Each nonprofit will receive $30,000 from the home’s sale, says Jacobson, adding the investor wishes to remain anonymous.

“Words are not adequate enough to describe how grateful and appreciative I am for these contractors who are so generous with their time, talents and treasures,” says the Rev. Larry Arce, the Fresno Rescue Mission’s chief executive officer.

Jacobson says the spirit of volunteerism reminds him of similar support in January, when the ABC-TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” rallied several thousand volunteers to help rebuild the west-central Fresno home of Mary Ann Riojas, making it wheelchair-accessible to her.

“This has been another extreme makeover,” Jacobson says. “Many people just want to be the hands and feet of Christ in the community.”

A special event will be held at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at the North Wishon Avenue home, honoring the contractors, businesses and others.

The reporter can be reached at rorozco@fresno bee.com or (559) 441-6304.

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