Melissa Utermark loves ABC television host Ty Pennington. She watches his “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” every week.
Saturday, Utermark was experiencing her own extreme home makeover as volunteers from Rebuilding Together’s Saratoga chapter made “extreme” home repairs to her house in the Pyramid Pines Mobile Home Park.
Utermark’s home was designated by Rebuilding Together sponsor Sears, Roebuck and Co. as a “Heroes at Home” site because her husband, Bill Utermark, is in the U.S. Army Reserve serving in Afghanistan. Utermark’s home received extra money to make repairs.
Utermark received a new roof to replace the previous one, which was caving in and unsafe, new windows, new skirting to prevent small animals from nesting there, a new back porch, new doors and a coat of paint.
“Oh my God, this is so exciting, especially the new roof. It’s kind of like having a new house,” Utermark said. “I’m not going to want to move now.”
Bill Utermark has been away from his wife and 5-year-old daughter Hailey since before Christmas and is not expected to return home until the end of the year. Melissa Utermark said her husband of five years was worried about his family and applied to become a Rebuilding Together site before he left.
“Imagine the piece of mind this must give him knowing that his family has a safe home,” site captain Maura Millar said.
Millar and about 10 other volunteers spent the morning and afternoon Saturday to help Utermark fix her home.
Rebuilding Together is a national organization that helps families with home repairs. The Saratoga chapter was participating in its fifth national Rebuilding Day. This weekend was the first of three work days, the largest of which will be next weekend.
Locally, Rebuilding Together’s 600 volunteers are scheduled to work at more than 30 private residences and nonprofit buildings this year.
Volunteering was a family affair at the Utermark site. Millar’s two sons helped, including her 16-year-old son, James, who is considering attending the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“It’s fulfilling knowing that I’m contributing to something,” James Millar said.
Don Ranck has been volunteering for three years and brought his two teenage children to join him this year. Lindsey, 16, a sophomore at Schuylerville High School who painted railings and trim, said she felt good knowing she was helping someone else.
Ranck said he is involved with different community activities and this is just another way that he gives back.
“I have some mediocre skills that I like to put to good use,” he said.
Millar said she wanted to volunteer when “Extreme Makeover” rebuilt a home in Colonie last year, but was told there were too many volunteers. After that she became involved with Rebuilding Together.
“I thought I can do this on a smaller scale and help families locally. I mean I’ll see Melissa at TJ Maxx,” she said.
Utermark said she works in the fitting rooms at the local TJ Maxx clothing store.
Maria Fontaine, who is a Rebuilding Together’s board member, was helping at another site in the Pyramid Pines Mobile Home Park. She said it’s nice to see people involved in service projects.
“We are complete strangers coming together, but in the end it doesn’t matter,” she said. “People come from all sorts of backgrounds, but they all share a common interest in helping people.”
The recipients of that help Saturday were grateful.
“I must have said ‘thank you’ a million times,” Utermark said. “Now when I drive home from work I’m going to pass right by my house because I won’t even recognize it.”
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