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Extreme Makeover: Home Edition begins Knoxville build

6:28 PM, Jan 10, 2012   |    comments
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  • Courtesy: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
  • Courtesy: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

A Knoxville couple who have dedicated themselves to their adoptive children and to helping single mothers get on their feet, are getting some much-deserved help of their own this week.

The Watson family were selected by the show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" to get a brand new house.

The family was surprised Tuesday morning by the show.  Daniel and Mandy Watson and their three children will be taken on a Florida vacation while the show's design team and thousands of local volunteers build them a new home.

They were selected because of their work with Restoration House of East Tennessee.  The group helps low-income, single mothers with a place to stay and the tools to succeed in life.  The couple left their jobs five years ago to start the non-profit organization, inspired be their own single-mother upbringings.

They are currently helping five single mothers and 11 children. But their own home is in such bad shape that it threatens to take them away from their non-profit and imperils their dreams of expanding the program to help even more single moms.

The Watson's have three adopted children, Atley, 7, Ava, 6, and Silas, 2.  The older kids were adopted from single mothers in the Knoxville area.  Silas was found abandoned in the bushes in Ethiopia, close to death, at only 10 days old.  Now, all three children are healthy and happy.

As their parents work to help others, their home is falling down around them.  The foundation is crumbling, leaving warped floors, cracking walls, and falling ceilings. The family room is sinking into the ground due to the poor foundation. The house contains little insulation and has several holes leading outside from the cellar and bedrooms.

With Silas' medical bills and adoption costs, Daniel and Mandy haven't been able to replace the roof and, instead, have rigged a tarp over half the house.

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" will whisk away the Watson family on a dream vacation to St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida, while special guest Jenny McCarthy and, designers Paul DiMeo, Tracy Hutson, John Littlefield and Jillian Harris, along with Grace Construction and community volunteers, help to build the structure.

The build begins Jan. 10, and will continue 24-hours around the clock for about a week until the home is rebuilt. This process normally would take almost a year to complete.

The construction project is using the talents of over 3,000 local volunteers who are doing everything from actual building to feeding the workers and providing support services such as tents, signage, transportation and public relations.

Mostly local companies are donating all materials for the build. Grace Construction is the lead builder on the project and they have branded the local workers "Extreme Volunteers." T-shirts bearing that logo are available with a donation to the Knoxville Family Build Fund. They are available through the Grace Construction website at

A fund to support the family, which has mortgages on the property, has also been established. Contributions to that fund may be made through the website or at any branch of Home Federal Bank, which has launched the fund with a corporate donation of $20,000.

Grace Construction, founded in 2003 and named for the daughter of the company's owners Christi and Scott Branscom, provides custom-built homes as well as commercial construction.

The show featuring the Watson family is scheduled to air later this year on ABC.

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