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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2006
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Tennessee United Methodist Congregation
Plays Key Role in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Hendersonville, Tenn: Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. played a central part in the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode that will air Sunday, October 8 at 8:00 p.m. EST on ABC.
On April 7, an F3 tornado passed within a half mile of the church. Though the church was spared, the nearby home of firefighter Jerrod Hawkins, his wife Amy and their two sons was destroyed. Youth group members were in the church building at the time of the tornado, and saw that the house had been virtually obliterated.
Church youth director Jennifer Mazzola and some of the youth rushed to offer assistance, and learned that Amy Hawkins had sustained life-threatening injuries while trying to shield her two sons, Jaire and Cole, from the falling bricks and rubble. Neighbors found Amy and the boys in what had once been the basement of the house. She had used her body to cover the children, protecting them from serious injury-but Amy's spine was crushed and her ribs broken. Jerrod Hawkins was not at home when the tornado hit.
Church members worked to gather the Hawkins' personal belongings which were strewn across fields and in trees. The things that could be salvaged were brought back to the church where volunteers of all ages spent many hours sorting and cleaning toys, clothing, and other items so they could to be stored and returned to the family.
Though Amy survived, she is now paralyzed from the waist down. Touched by Amy's heroism and courage, church members helped to collect some of the 50,000 signatures petitioning Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for assistance. "We were part of a movement that just rose and rose," said the Rev. Allen Weller, pastor of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church. "We took the role of the Good Samaritan."
The church agreed to help host the show's cast and crew, using some of the rooms as studios. On Sunday morning when the five-day building project kicked off, 300-400 volunteers gathered in the church sanctuary for a "Brave Heart Rally" before boarding buses for the construction site.
After the house was completed, host Ty Pennington asked Rev. Weller to bless the Hawkins' new home. Rev. Weller gave thanks that on the very spot where they were standing-where the wreckage of the Hawkins home had covered a mother and her two sons only a few months before-not only had Amy, Jaire and Cole risen out of the rubble that covered them, but also a beautiful new home built by the hands of loving builders and volunteers.
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