EMHE ... Excites Family and Neighborhood

January 9, 2009 12:11:37 AM PST
The work is finished for the night, but the lights are still shining bright in the neighborhood and they will 24 hours a day for the next week. Inside the home, the lights are also still on, the stage is set, and the extreme makeover has already begun.Volunteers worked into the night, grabbing everything out of the home to give the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew a clean slate as they give the Riojas family a fresh start.

A moving truck carried away the last contents of the house and the whole effort left Mary Ann Riojas without words.

"When I heard that so many were volunteering their hours and then it got to 4,000 were volunteering and then it got to the point where they were giving volunteers other things to do because there were so many, I was just totally speechless," she said.

Born without legs and with only half of her right arm, Riojas has overcome many obstacles as she raised her four children and bought her first home in Central Fresno.

Now, The Extreme Makeover team will erase the obstacles she faces in her own home.

"She's done everything that she can possibly do in her world," said Extreme Makeover designer Michael Moloney. "What she can't do is take care of that house and we can. In seven days, we can make her life completely different."

The new house will be completely accessible to Riojas, with lower counters, a new bathtub, and fixtures to make life easier for the whole family.

Neighbors say the show picked exactly the right family.

"I think it's great," said neighbor Linda Avila. "To see them pick such a needy family right here in Fresno ? it's great. It makes me want to cry. It's great for them."

The entire neighborhood is getting a makeover for the next week. The city has closed off 11 streets for the project and the crew will cover lawns with enough bleacher seats to let 4,000 people watch what's happening outside.

Producers offered hotel rooms to any neighbors inconvenienced by the huge production, but almost nobody is complaining about it.

"It's an inconvenience, but for a good cause," said neighbor Wayne Stonecipher. "It's nice to put Fresno on a national map and show people we're a caring community."

"It touched me," said Riojas. "It just shows you there are a lot of good people with big hearts in Fresno. It's just amazing."

The moving truck with all the contents of the home is just down the street. Some of the items will be made over and returned. Others will get thrown away.

The bleachers will go up on Saturday and stay there until Thursday, which is when the Riojas family will return from their ski vacation in Colorado and see their new house.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


abc30 News Links:
Links to other news sections on our website.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Breaking News Alerts:
Click Here to Sign-Up for Breaking News E-Mail Alerts
Receive Breaking News alerts in your email inbox.


Click Here to Sign-Up for Text Message Alerts
Receive Breaking News alerts right on your cell phone.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Load Comments