By Kimberly Luste Maran
“I know she’s going to cry, and I love that.”
|Pastor Mike Dauncey of the Church in the Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, in British Columbia, Canada, stands with the Scarrow family right before their newly renovated home is revealed. Photo by Trevino Warren Naidoo
Less than an hour before the Church in the Valley’s Extreme Home Repair (EHR) team unveiled their fifteenth renovated home to owner Sarah Scarrow, volunteer Alex Weeks washed a paint brush and shared her thoughts.
Smiling, Weeks explained: “My family received this amazing treat in 2010, and it changed my world. I talked to [Sarah] on the phone and she is so sweet — I want to do whatever I can to help her out. I know the feeling — I know she’s going to cry, and I love that. Tears of joy are so uncommon nowadays . . . this is such genuine joy — you don’t get this anywhere else.”
Scarrow, a 47-year-old single mother of three adopted children, didn’t mask her tears of joy as the bus blocking the view of her Aldergrove, British Columbia, house rolled away for the home reveal. Overwhelmed with emotion, the Canadian mom exclaimed, “My house is gorgeous; strangers did this for me! ‘Thank you’ just seems too little, way too inadequate.”
Scarrow, a Christian but not an Adventist, works full-time, but most of her paycheck goes toward the mortgage, leaving little for home repair and upkeep.
“Basically the entire electrical system was redone, top to bottom, which was a bit of a surprise, we weren’t expecting to do that,” EHR team member David Russell said in a May 24 Langley Advance story (“Aldergrove Extreme Home Repair team does it again,” Troy Landreville).
| ||EHR volunteers gather outside of the Aldergrove home renovation, right after the big reveal. Photo by Trevino Warren Naidoo
“We’ve moved rooms, we put in a brand-new legal suite so she can use it to rent for income, plus we put in a new back entrance going downstairs to a new bonus room that they were not really using, it was more for storage, and we just secured a donation for the pool, a new liner, pumps, everything,” Russell added.
New flooring, windows, a front door, and a driveway were also put in, the home was painted, and brand new fixtures, including a new stove and refrigerator were installed. In all, repairs are estimated at about $250,000.
Scarrow was surprised to see just how much had changed. Her first impression when she turned the corner of her street was shock at the huge amount of people. Glad to see all the volunteers, some friends and mostly strangers, she said to her children, “Wow! If those are the volunteers, I get to thank them all!” The amazement continued as the family toured the home, thanking volunteers and Church in the Valley again and again.
Josh Kwiatkowski, Weeks’ brother, knows the feeling. “They have the biggest hearts. The Church in the Valley dedicate so much time to a family they barely know; If more people were like that everything would be better. I’ve never been a part of something so nice.”
Along with his sister, Kwiatkowski has volunteered each year since his mother’s home was renovated in 2010. “I’m not a part of the church but seeing all these people come together to help people they don’t know . . . I know what I felt like when I experienced it so I’m just happy to help other people feel the same way,” he said.
While this makeover is considered the most challenging one to date, with volunteers working right up to the reveal, project supervisor Lorne Brownmiller said, “It is always like this — right to the end — but it is always worth it when the family comes in.”
|With her sister, and shoes in hand, single mom Sarah Scarrow, takes a look around her new kitchen, thanks to the Extreme Home Repair (EHR) team. Photo by Trevino Warren Naidoo
Brownmiller shared that “every year we have struggles . . . it slows you down and you have to regroup and still try to keep moving on that timeline. To do what we do in 15 days is absolutely divine providence. It is a God thing from beginning to end. We hit our deadlines all because of our Leader in the Heavens above.”
EHR projects begin with nominations in November, followed by months of planning, acquiring sponsors, and getting home repair-experienced volunteers lined up. Said Brownmiller: “We find out people’s expertise level, get professionals who know what they’re doing, and God will lead.” Projects start annually in early May—and finish up after 15 full days of repair (work is not done on Sabbath).
“Projects can be frustrating,” said Brownmiller, who owns a contracting business with his son and has worked with EHR since it started in 2004, “but I see what we are able to do with a bit of time — a little bit of time in the scheme of things. The blessings are enormous. The differences you can make in someone’s life in just 15 days . . . I wouldn’t not want to be part of it.”
Church Pastor Mike Dauncey concurred. In a short amount of time, “a lot has to be accomplished, it’s the ‘busiest’ thing I’ve ever done. Toward the end there isn’t much sleep . . . but seeing the family’s response is great.”
“The need is so great,” added Dauncey. “This is one way we can reach our community for Jesus in a unobtrusive way. Just meeting people’s needs where they are.” Dauncey says that the program wouldn’t be the success it is without the huge community involvement. This year, there were 85 construction sponsors, 100 church volunteers, and about 100 volunteers from the local community. On June 25, the Church in the Valley hosted a donor and volunteer appreciation night where they thanked everyone, watched a video of the project, and celebrated.
Scarrow, who plans to be in on the labor and celebrations as a volunteer next year, was embarrassed when the team first came to her home. “The house was in such need,” she said. “But I wasn’t judged. They said they respected me and honored me for being a single parent. They came and gave me such a boost.”
Scarrow had gotten repair estimates and prayed about it. She said, “I wasn’t hopeless, but had no idea how it was going to happen. A year later it is done.”
While residing in a donated condominium during the two weeks of repair, Scarrow said that she and her children prayed “everyday for the volunteers — that they’d have joy while working on the house. I was happy to see all the unity and friendship between the volunteers.”
Scarrow said she will tell her friends in different trades about EHR. “And I want to be a part of it.”
For now, Scarrow is working on digesting what has happened. “This is beyond what I could have imagined,” said Sarah. “this looks like a magazine — and this is my house.”
“This is a life-changing experience. I wanted a safe place for my children. . . . It’s like somebody gave me Christmas times a million.”
Scarrow has a new, deeper perspective on volunteering. She talked about how she plans to have people over to fellowship and “see what God has done.”
She said, “I’m asking myself, Who can I give back to? How can I pay it forward? I am excited.”
EHR is one component of Acts of Kindness (AOK) outreach ministries. Click here for more information; Watch this video of the Scarrow renovation; see the video story of AOK’s most recent Cars for Moms donation; and check out the CALLED magazine for more about the active Church in the Valley.