One man and his five sons shared one bathroom, three mattresses and barely had any heat or electricity in their New Jersey home that was crumbling down around them. That changed when ABC’s Emmy-winning reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” partnered with a local construction company to rebuild their home and their lives.
Senior Karrinne Hovnanian was there to witness the transformation as she and her family’s construction company helped one deserving family’s dreams come true.
The driving forces behind the project were the sense of community and generosity among the volunteers, Hovnanian said.
“ABC came to us and they said there was a different air that week than there had been on any of the other shows. It was just so strong; everyone was hugging each other,” she said. “That kind of camaraderie was so powerful.”
A sense of community and camaraderie united the workers and the show’s design team as they built the Marrero family of Camden, N.J., a new home from the ground up in one week. Those values are also a strong part of the Marrero and Hovnanian families.
Victor Marrero is a single father raising five sons in a loving environment, which is difficult considering the Marreros are living in an area influenced by gangs while coping with an unfortunate heart condition left Marrero jobless.
Despite these hardships, he still gives back to the community. He began a program for single fathers in Camden and is an inspiration for his sons, who hold down jobs in order to support the family.
This same spirit of community helped the Hovnanian family survive in the United States since Hovnavian’s grandfather, Jirair, arrived here from Armenia. When he arrived, other family members took him in with open arms and helped him start his company, J.S. Hovnanian & Sons, which is based in Mt. Laurel, N.J., more than 40 years ago.
Jirair passed away at 80 from heart failure soon after the project, putting a somber note on such a joyous occasion. However, the sense of community remained intact as the Marrero family attended his funeral. Also, ABC plans to dedicate the episode to him.
When asked to describe the interior of the Marrero’s new home, Hovnanian could not give much detail.
“It was a highly secretive process,” she said. “The interior of the house is still meant to be as private as possible until the showing, so I can’t really tell you much.but it is beautiful.”
This article appeared in the November 5, 2007 issue of the Hatchet.