Valley Voices

Thousands gave time, sweat to build a home for a Clovis firefighter and his daughters

CalFire firefighter Nick Reeder, right, and family, gather at their new home, courtesy of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and De Young Properties, before a press conference Monday, Aug. 5, 2019.
CalFire firefighter Nick Reeder, right, and family, gather at their new home, courtesy of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and De Young Properties, before a press conference Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. Fresno Bee file

The cameras are gone, the crowds have cleared away from Rall Avenue and the neighbors have returned to their normal lives. But something special still lingers following the production of the Clovis Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode: the spirit of volunteerism that permeated every facet of this community project. That spirit — and the lives touched by it — are a lasting legacy to our community’s acts of kindness that will not soon be forgotten.

Thanks to Extreme Makeover, De Young Properties and the Clovis community, the Nick Reeder family now has a beautiful house to call home and has raised the consciousness of the community to the importance of service.

Local Cal Fire captain Nick Reeder lost his wife, Amanda, in April 2018 one hour after giving birth to their twin daughters, Kaia and Kelce. This left Nick to raise their new girls and their other daughter Layla, while figuring out how to move forward without his wife. His mother, Jeanine, had moved into the 900-square-foot apartment to assist with the girls. Fast forward to July 30, when Nick and his family were greeted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, show designers, and De Young Properties alongside thousands of other volunteers, businesses and every level of government, who built the Reeder family’s new home within seven days!

The effort demonstrated a spirit of generosity, teamwork and collaboration that inspired an entire community.

“Thank you to the community and everyone that has supported us. This has been quite the challenge for our family, but I can see the puzzle pieces being put back together,” Reeder said. “This home is one piece that will definitely help us. The house is so gorgeous. It’s a style that we totally fell in love with.”

Volunteer coordinator Rae Pardini Matson said 2,000 volunteers arrived all hours of the day and night, sometimes unannounced, “just get their hands dirty and help out because they heard of the Reeder family’s tremendously deserving story.”.

This was a home built with lots of love and donated supplies: more than 13,256 board square feet of lumber, 255 drywall sheets, 65 cubic feet of concrete, 900 square feet of stone, 37 gallons of paint, 1,431 sheets of repurposed wood siding, 3,270 meals and 780 cases of water.

In total, more than 10,000 volunteer hours were spent completing the project. As volunteers worked around-the-clock to build the Reeder’s dream home, hundreds of spectators lined the streets to lend their support. The spirit of giving was expanded as spectators brought canned food to help fill the community food bank. By the end of the build, more than 1,813 pounds of water and food were collected.

In addition, the community contributed over $20,000 to help the Reeder family.

Other local businesses and organizations are working to foster the spirit of volunteerism as well. For example, the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State promotes giving back to the community and encourages the faculty, staff and students of Fresno State to volunteer. A number of them volunteered to help build the home for the Reeder family.

Our De Young Properties team was forever changed by this experience because helping the Reeder family reminds us that many of our neighbors need our help. This experience has shown the depth of generosity and compassion in our community.

I would like to challenge every person to keep the goodwill moving forward by volunteering their time to a local nonprofit or to a fellow neighbor in need. We’ve seen what a community can do when they work together to make a difference. I believe it’s just the beginning!

de young
Paula De Young, executive vice president, De Young Properties. Contributed

Paula De Young is executive vice president of De Young Properties.