Travis Noonan – The Corsair
The popular ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a reality television program that has been building and repairing homes for needy families since 2003, chose Pensacola for their latest episode. Approximately 20 Pensacola State HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Condition) and carpentry students participated in the construction.
“It was just amazing what [progress] you can see in so much time,” HVAC student Tim Toler said. “It felt great to help out.”
The majority of participants seemed to share Toler’s opinion about the experience.
“I think it was really cool and a really nice thing to do for the family,” Rachele Limford, a carpentry student, said.
“My family was excited for me. They also thought it would be a very good experience and would be cool to watch the house go up so quickly,” Josh Graves, HVAC student, said. “It was just a lot of fun. Everybody was just kind of in the zone.”
HVAC student Tom Enfinger said that the event was “something fun and new to do.”
“We were all marching like soldiers and ants,” Lester Hurst, HVAC student, said. “But I learned a lot.”
Enfinger said that the site “looked like a madhouse, but everyone knew what their job was.”
“It was very fast,” Graves said. “Everything was fast paced.”
According to HVAC instructor Arnold Pearson, all 22 of his students signed up to work on the house, but only a handful were accepted.
“There were just too many people,” Pearson said. “We tried to rotate them [the students] six every two hours, but we were finished in about six hours, so most of them didn’t get to do anything.”
“To them [the students] it was hands on experience, actually seeing what the real world is as far as installing air conditioning equipment,” Pearson said.
“You didn’t think about it in the moment,” Graves said. “You were told a job to do and then you did it as best and as fast as you could, and it didn’t really hit you until you took a step back when you were getting ready to leave.”
“My instructor told us that the Extreme Makeover was coming to Pensacola and needed volunteers in our craft to assist them,” Hurst said. The students only had to fill out a form to apply for the build.
Tom Bone, head of the department of engineering, said that the only step in becoming involved with the makeover was to register on the Extreme Makeover website.
“I just put in Pensacola State carpentry and HVAC [on the website],” Bone said, “then they [the instructors] went to their classes and handed out the volunteer forms. The students who filled them out were allowed to go and the others were dismissed from class for those days so that they didn’t have to worry about hiring substitutes.”
The Extreme Makeover project isn’t the only house that Pensacola State students have helped build; they also worked on a 1,400 square foot home with Habitat for Humanity.
“The students did all the framing and installed the doors, windows, siding, roofing, shingles, and everything else,” Bone said.
Pearson said that these events will “show the need for air conditioner people in the community and reinforce that we do need people who are qualified and have an education to go along with their skills.”