On Sunday, 4 March 2007, Donna Curtis saw her new 2,400-square-foot house in the place where her 600-square-foot house once stood.
Bishop Stewart Hamilton, a local leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mapleton, Utah, brought together his congregation, local businesses and neighbors to build a new home for Donna — one that would be big enough for her and her family.
Bishop Hamilton admitted his amazement at the generosity of his members and their neighbors and friends. “We took on a huge project to help a single mom, a mom who is raising her grandchildren on a very tight budget. It was a great opportunity to do something good, and people caught the vision. It was truly a labor of love,” he explained. “The men did all the ugly work, and then we called in the sisters to make the house beautiful, to make the house into a home.”
The demolition of the worn original home and the complete reconstruction required only 38 days.
A feat of that magnitude could be accomplished only by hundreds of volunteers, many skilled laborers and generous friends and neighbors. Chris Shurian, owner of Classic Construction, assumed the role of project manager and coordinated the ongoing construction needs.
“To coordinate a construction project on this tight schedule requires everything be done exactly on time,” explained Shurian. The project manager, whose company selects a community service project every year, had established numerous relationships with subcontractors in past projects, relationships that facilitated execution of the tight scheduling requirements on the Curtis effort.
Shurian estimated that nearly 30 different companies provided expertise, manpower and materials in the reconstruction project.
The stucco crew, for example, arrived on a day’s notice and in a blizzard. “They had to set the scaffolding in the snow and then tent the house before the stucco could be applied,” Shurian added. He noted the normal timeframe for stucco application could be several weeks, but the volunteer crew finished the task in three days.
Marsha Harwood, owner of a local quilting business, donated a hand-pieced quilt. “I went to high school with Donna,” she explained, “and I wanted to do something to help. I was grateful I had something to contribute.”
Faye Quarnberg, Donna’s sister, made and sold 132 pounds of pecan rolls, while Faye’s daughter peddled 26 tubs of cookie dough, 22 in one evening. As a family, the Quarnbergs made and installed all the cabinet work in the new home. “My son owns a cabinet shop,” Faye said. “All my kids and their kids donated time and money to make the cabinets for Donna.”
Members of the Church’s local women’s organization, the Relief Society, accepted responsibility to gather donations in the community, clean after construction crews and add interior design touches to the new home. Tina Anderson, Relief Society president, acknowledged it was “a miracle” to see the whole project come together. “People came out of the woodwork to help,” she said. “We expected simple donations, but when people saw the need they were so generous. The house looked like the ‘Parade of Homes’ when we finished.”
As for Donna and her family, they are understandably grateful. But they aren’t alone in their gratitude. Participants generously thanked Bishop Hamilton, Chris Shurian and Tina Anderson for the opportunities to serve. Shurian summarized his response to the project: “I’ve been so blessed myself. Why not give something back? Everyone gets so excited about helping.”
Beyond the individual benefits, Anderson noted the impact of the service on the ward and the neighborhood. “This experience has put such electricity into our ward and neighborhood. We have a closeness we haven’t felt before in our new ward. People feel connected to one another in a new way.”