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Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Announces Knoxville Family to Get Makeover

watson family
Mandy and Daniel Watson with Atley, Ava and Sila.
Image courtesy of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

KNOXVILLE -- Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has announced the Knoxville family that will receive a home makeover.

Earlier today, January 10, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" surprised Knoxville's Watson family with the door knock that changes lives. This episode will air as a special during the 2012-2013 season on the ABC Television Network. Jenny McCarthy, actress, author, activist and entrepreneur, will guest star on the design team.

Daniel and Mandy Watson are not only the proud adoptive parents of three adorable, fun loving kids with boundless energy, but they are also inspirational examples of how people can make a difference in the lives of so many others. Having both been raised by single mothers, the Watsons work tirelessly to transform the lives of low-income, single-mother families through housing and providing the tools to succeed in life… all while their own home falls apart around them.

Five years ago, they left their jobs and created The Restoration House of East Tennessee, a non-profit organization that provides single mothers with housing at a local apartment complex as well as the tools needed (mentoring, advocacy) to be confident, self-sufficient, and productive members of their community.

This passionate young couple fight hard for their dream of 'restoring' the lives of single mothers and their children in Knoxville, Tennessee, where over 5,000 single-mother families live below the poverty line. Their mantra, "It Takes a Village," has helped many single mothers and their children transition to living successful lives both financially and personally. 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.

watson kidsThe Watsons decided to forego having biological children and adopted Atley, 7, and Ava, 6, as newborns from single mothers in the Knoxville area and baby Silas, 2, from Ethiopia. Both Ava and Silas were at-risk adoptions. Silas was found abandoned in the bushes suffering from neonatal tetanus and on the verge of death. He was handed over to authorities at only 10 days old. Now all three children are healthy and playful, full of joy and mischief. Daniel works tirelessly at the Restoration House as executive director, but also works a second job at night as a web developer to pay the bills. Even though Mandy is now staying at home to take care of Silas, she spends countless hours helping the mothers in the Restoration House program. Sadly (and ironically), as the Watsons work to transform lives and help get women shelter, their own home is literally 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.

These problems imperil the dream Daniel and Mandy had four years ago when they founded their non-profit, as well as their dream of adding a small second home on their property to house additional families temporarily.

"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 today, 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 Additionally, a fund to support the family, which has mortgages on the property, has 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. It is located downtown at 505 Walnut Street. Known for environmentally conscious construction methods, Grace is mostly in demand for high-end residential projects.

About ABC-TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" – The Emmy award winning reality program "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," now in its 9th season, is produced by Endemol USA, a division of Endemol Holding. It's executive produced by Brady Connell and George Verschoor. David Goldberg is Chairman, Endemol North America. Episodes air Friday nights from 8 to 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

There is still a list of items urgently needed to complete the project:

Published January 10, 2012, 10:28 a.m.

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