'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' selects Navajo family for makeover project

Staff Reports
4/30/07

PINON, Ariz. - ''Good Morning, Yazzie family!'' was the wake-up call heard on the Navajo Nation on April 9. Ty Pennington, along with the rest of the crew from the hit television show ''Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'' and the team from HomeLife Communities Inc., greeted the family of four with the good news: They had been selected to receive the next home makeover.

''Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'' selected HomeLife Communities to build a new home for the very deserving family on the Navajo Nation in Pinon. The entire home makeover was completed in less than one week.

''This project is very exciting because we are able to really help a family in need.'' HomeLife Communities Southwest Division President Steve Sasso said. ''I love that the community, our team and the crew of 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' are coming together to help build the Yazzie family the house of their dreams.''

About the Yazzie family

The Yazzie family lives in a single-wide trailer with no running water, holes in the floors and ceiling, no insulation, no working bathrooms, a broken water heater, limited electricity, no phone line and boarded-up windows. Of all these problems with the house, the Yazzie family's biggest challenge was the lack of electric heating. Gwendolyn, the youngest and a special-needs child, suffers from severe asthma and epilepsy. Burning coal to warm the house during the cold winter months is not an option, as it puts Gwendolyn at a serious health risk.

It was because of this that Garrett Yazzie, Gwendolyn's older brother, took action. At the age of 13, he took it upon himself to be the man of the house. Knowing that the family needed to keep warm, but with no electricity to heat the house and no burning of coal, Garrett decided to harness the power of the sun and invent a solar heater. With the help of the Internet and several online mentors, Garrett paid tribute to the Navajo principles of sustainable living, living off the land and leaving no waste by creating a heating system made of an old car transmission and several aluminum cans.

This invention not only warmed the house for his sisters and his mother, but turned Garrett into a ''junkyard genius,'' winning him numerous national and local honors, awards and recognition.

The house

HomeLife Communities and their team built Garrett and his family a ''green'' sustainable energy house that is in harmony with the Navajo principles of honoring Father Sky and Mother Earth.

''For me, the most exciting part is building the Yazzie family a 'green' house,'' said Lance Guest, vice president of construction. ''We will be using the latest construction advancements to create a house that is energy efficient and self-sustainable. This home will rely far less on purchased electricity or gas than the typical family home - a fact that will translate into hundreds of dollars of savings each year for the Yazzie family.''

The team

For HomeLife Communities and its team, this build was a challenge, but this is nothing new for them. This is not HomeLife Communities' first experience building a home for ''Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.'' In December 2006, HomeLife Communities built a home for the Riggins family of Raleigh, N.C.

''We are honored to have been asked to build another home for another deserving family,'' said Darren Drevik, director of U.S. marketing for HomeLife Communities. Drevik went on with a smile: ''We've done it once and we can do it again!''

The build

The construction marathon on this house began April 12 at 8 a.m.

In a hectic weeklong period, the existing home was completely replaced. Construction was completed April 17, when the Yazzie family returned from vacation to see their new home for the first time.

It is unclear when this project will be aired on the program. ''Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'' airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on ABC.

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