Fire Corps TX State Advocate Helps Firefighter in Need Get Extreme Home Makeover
When the Bastrop wildfire slammed Texas in September, volunteer firefighter Mizzy Zdroj was there battling the blaze. But while she was trying to save the homes of her fellow Texans, her own home was destroyed by the fire. Yet tragedy turned to joy in December when the Zdroj family received a new home thanks to ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, builder EFC Custom Homes of Bastrop, and a crew of volunteers including Fire Corps Texas State Advocate Jeanie Fossati.
|Jeanie Fossati (right) with Mizzy Zdroj.|
More than 3,000 volunteers, including firefighters and Fire Corps members, gathered in mid-December to accomplish
the build in a span of one week. The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and Fire Corps Advocate Fossati helped put out the call for volunteers. Fossati, who supports 125 Fire Corps programs in Texas, including two in Bastrop, was also among the volunteers working at the site to give the Zdroj family a new home.
Fossati was excited to assist in the project and fulfil the mission of Fire Corps by helping the Zdroj family. “I handed out Fire Corps shirts and materials to everyone including the Project Manager, the Producer, the Designers, and of course the Zdroj family, and explained what Fire Corps was all about: Citizens helping Fire and EMS,” she recalled.
The days were long and the tasks were numerous for Fossati. “Sometimes I was working with the production crew and designers as an “extra,” or working in the “Art World,” assisting the carpenters, landscaping, and then the staging and decorating. The field across from the build site was packed with travel trailers, and 18-wheeled trucks that held tools, building supplies, lighting, and sound equipment. Volunteers had 24-hour shifts; there was always someone working. Mother Nature didn’t care. We had rain the whole week, but nothing stopped the progress.”
After one week – 106 hours to be exact – the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team, along with the 3,000 community volunteer, made the Zdroj family’s dream come true with the big reveal.
In addition to getting a new home, Zdroj’s fire department – the Heart of Pines Volunteer Fire Department – also received a makeover. The department was hit hard by the wildfire, so the ABC show decided to remodel the station. Corporate supporters donated much-needed gear and equipment to the department, including a 2001 Ford brush truck from Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, turnout gear from NVFC partner Globe Manufacturing, two-way radios from Motorola, and more. Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) donated scholarships to the entire department to attend the annual fire school.
Zdroj was overwhelmed with emotion when she saw the remodelled fire station and what it represented. “She and all the firefighters were not just given a new home and equipment, but a new sense of hope for the future of the community,” said Fossati.
The community also raised more than $12,000 to present to the Zdroj family, and Concordia University donated scholarships for all three Zdroj children.
The entire experience was a rewarding one for Fossati. “I am glad I was able to help represent Fire Corps and be a part of this new beginning for the entire Lost Pines family in Bastrop County, Texas.”
The episode will air as an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition holiday special in December 2012.
Click here to read Jeanie Fossati's full account of her experience on the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build site.
Find additional photos on the Globe Manufacturing page on Facebook and on the Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus page on Facebook.
*Photos courtesy of Jeanie Fossati.