Looking at the Clarks' home in South Toledo yesterday morning, it was hard to believe the family didn't win Extreme Home Makeover last year.
More than a dozen people filled the family's driveway and kitchen. They were pulling plaster off the kitchen walls, knocking down the water pipes, and tossing the furniture and appliances into the Dumpster.
In other words, if the Clarks weren't getting an Extreme Home Makeover, they were getting an extreme home makeover.
"We talk to our students all the time about service. This is a great opportunity for them to serve one of our own," said Mike Kaucher, who has led the efforts to renovate the Clarks' home after they weren't selected by the hit TV show.
From left, Michael Petro, Michael Kaucher, principal of Central Catholic, and Brian Clark look at the torn-out ceiling in Mr. Clark's kitchen as they decide what's next on the to-do list. The Clarks, who have four adopted children, have been foster parents too. The renovation project will cost about $50,000 and the community will have raised about half of that, Mr. Kaucher said.
Mr. Kaucher is principal of Cen-tral Catholic High School, where Brian Clark has taught social studies for 19 years. Mr. Kaucher has led the efforts to renovate the Clarks' home after the TV show did not select them.
"It's amazing. It's overwhelming," said Mr. Clark as he watched Central Catholic students, parents, alumni, staff, and other members of the community work on his kitchen.
After the Clarks, a family of six, applied for Extreme Home Makeover two years ago and were denied, the community began circulating a petition to get them on the show.
Through e-mail and word of mouth, the petition ended up with 5,000 signatures on it.
Cindy Koepfer walks through the field in Clay Township, sometimes getting close enough to hear the dog s collar jingle. She worries that the dog is wearing out.
Last year the show asked the family to reapply and they were selected as finalists.
"Everybody was really excited," said Renee Sarra, who will be a senior this year at Central Catholic and was a student of Mr. Clark's for two years. Renee and classmate Lauren Eckels, who both helped with the renovations yesterday, said the whole school was involved in the petition process.
But the Clarks lost out to the Frisch family. That didn't deter the Central Catholic community.
"I guess we were all a little disappointed," Lauren said. "But now we actually get to do it. It paid off."
Mr. Kaucher said the entire project will cost about $50,000 and the community will have raised about half of that. The rest has been the result of generous donations.
With help from the City of Toledo and businesses such as Westfield Electric, the roof of the house has been replaced, along with the sewer and electrical systems.
"That is a nice adjustment," Mr. Clark said of the new roof. "We don't have to put buckets out anymore."
The rewiring has also solved a lot of problems for the family.
"Every time we ran the sweeper or the pool, the TV would go out and the microwave would go out," said Mr. Clark's daughter Melissa of their home before the new electrical wiring.
The kitchen renovation, with volunteer help from Chuck Barchick of Barchick Custom Homes, and the painting of the exterior are the two last projects. Next week a group of students from the University of Toledo will do the painting.
"People have been so gracious," Mr. Kaucher said. "I'll send out an e-mail and I'll just get an incredible response." He said he had asked for six to eight people to help yesterday and counted 16 that morning.
The Clarks' house was built in 1975 and they have been living there since 1990. While Mr. and Mrs. Clark have four children, all adopted, there were often more in the house because they are also foster parents. Over the years Mr. Clark says the family has housed more than 100 children.
The family has done renovations over the years, but nothing quite on this scale.
"The house was gorgeous," Mr. Clark said. "It still is."
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