by Brian Bomser
When I first heard the news that Florida Tech was going to be one of the sponsors for a local build of the popular hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EMHE), I was quite excited. I immediately saw this as a great opportunity to go out and make a difference for a deserving family. As a fan of the show, I knew that whoever would be the recipient of a new house, would be deserving of it.
One of the most interesting things about the Space Coast edition of EMHE was the way that it was announced and marketed to the general public. Social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare were heavily used to publicize the event. This seemed to me like a way to reach out to the younger generation and get them involved with giving back to a deserving family. One of the things that proved the importance of social media in the world today was a VIP event that was put on by the people working on the EMHE build. Through a Brevard County Social Media group, called #Get Social Brevard, a Tweet-up was planned. Even though I am not an active user of Twitter, I relished the opportunity and was able to get myself invited to the event. At the event, various people that use social media as their primary advertising for their business walked around and spoke to different people as to the advantages and drawbacks to the high-tech world that we are in now.
The Tweet-up, however; was not the first time that I stepped on the EMHE build site. When I had first learned of when the build would actually be going on, I quickly realized that it would be the first week of classes during the second semester of my junior year at Florida Tech. For those that may not know, that is typically the hardest semester that you will face in college. I saw this opportunity, and decided to jump all over it. I signed up to work the overnight shifts as I figured that this would be one of the less popular shifts during the build. I also knew that it would be the best opportunity for me to actually do something on the build site, and not just sit around watching all the filming.
I ended up being assigned the overnight shift on Sunday, January 9, from 2am – 8am. During which I assisted in laying steel re-bar, and pouring concrete for the foundation of the house. Through all this I had to remember that classes were to start the next day. Because of this, I knew that after my shift was over, I had the rest of Sunday to relax and get my mind ready for classes. I could not have been more wrong. Classes started Monday, but all I could think about was the amazing time that I spent 36 hours previous building a house in Canaveral Groves. With the Tweet-Up event planned for that Monday night I knew I was going to be back.
The next time that I was officially scheduled to be helping on the build site was not until Saturday the 15th, which was after the reveal to the family. With a little persuasion from a friend I was on my way back to the build site on Wednesday the 12th. We decided that we were just going to show up around 11pm on Wednesday, and stay until 7am the next morning. We didn’t think that we would be turned away from volunteering at such odd hours. We made the trek up to Canaveral Groves from Melbourne, and were immediately put to work. Among other things, our main task that night was to dig canals for the irrigation system that was being installed on the house that night/morning. One of the other tasks that some of us did was painting the ceiling of the great room that is a main feature of the house.
After the group of us volunteered on Wednesday night, I quickly organized a larger group of people to go back the following night, to help with the final details of the house. Unfortunately, we were actually turned away from volunteering due to an unfortunate miscommunication between the people volunteering at EMHE.
The most amazing thing from the whole experience is how quickly the house was actually built. I was there when it was only a pile of dirt early Sunday morning. Then the concrete for the foundation began to pour around 6am. When I came back for the Tweet-Up event on Monday night, there was a second story, and the roof was already on. I could not believe what I was seeing. When we came back on Wednesday night, (the 12th) the finer details were being completed. The stairs were being installed, landscaping was underway, and the individual bedrooms were being worked on. Each time that I went to the build site, I was amazed at how the whole process came together. In just over 100 hours, the massive combination of skilled workers and volunteers built a house.
Knowing what I know now, I would definitely sign up to work on another EMHE build wherever I may be. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I can only hope that I will be able to partake in such a wonderful experience again.
If there are any other questions that I have not addressed, please feel free to contact me and we can set up a meeting. My email address is BBomser2008@my.fit.edu.