Bachelor joins 'Home' brigade
|Video: 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' gets some assistance|
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
By Catherine E. Toth
KALIHI UKA — He may have seemed out of place in khakis and a clean T-shirt.
But Pearl Harbor-based naval doctor Lt. Andy Baldwin of ABC's "The Bachelor" felt right at home yesterday on the set of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
"It's like a military operation," Baldwin said, looking out at the two massive structures — totaling about 7,000 square feet — being built in a week on the property. "(This) reminds me of 'The Bachelor' set times a hundred."
Fans lined up along a metal fence, shouting his name and snapping quick photos with the sudden celebrity who was among the volunteers building a new home and community center for the Akana clan.
Baldwin joined the more than 3,000 volunteers needed to build the two structures at 3030 Kalihi St. The entire around-the-clock effort, from lumber to labor, is completely voluntary.
Construction began Wednesday and is expected to wrap up by this Wednesday, when the Akana family returns.
This makeover will open the show's fifth season on Sept. 23.
"I love the concept — helping people desperately in need," said Baldwin, who's been a fan of the popular ABC show since its start four years ago. "I love that people come together to give back. I love the teamwork. It's genius."
Theresa "Momi" Akana and the members of her family are the recipients of the extreme home makeover.
For more than a decade, they had been living in a small, dilapidated structure out of which Akana ran the nonprofit Keiki O Ka 'Aina Family Learning Center, an education facility dedicated to offering cultural programs to Native Hawaiians who could otherwise not afford them.
When the family returns to O'ahu on Wednesday, they will see the result of more than 165 hours of constant work.
Seeing the families' reactions is Michelle Kanehe's favorite part of the show.
The 30-year-old manager of Ohana Doggie Day Care and Spa came down yesterday to lend a hand.
"I was really excited about this project and having a deserving family for it," said Kanehe, who plans to volunteer through tomorrow. "It's been so tremendous."
Laura Weaver, a 48-year-old senior manager at Hawaiian Telcom, reported to the site at around 7 a.m.
She had never helped build a house before.
Her first task: crawl under the house and pull out all the trash.
"It's been great," said Weaver, her blue T-shirt covered in mud. "There's been something to do the entire time we've been here."
Like Baldwin, she loves the concept of an entire community coming out to help a family in need.
"I'm always amazed how (the show) picks the right family," Weaver said. "They seem to hit the mark every time."
The massive construction this weekend lured dozens of spectators eager to catch of glimpse of the new home — and maybe a celebrity or two.
On a five-week business trip to O'ahu from King George, Va., Mike Newkirk, a contractor for the Navy, opted to spend his day at the construction site yesterday rather than at the beach.
He plans to come back today and see if he can help out.
"I'm a big fan of the show and I like what they do to help people," said Newkirk, 39, who had an "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" T-shirt around his neck. "It's kind of what I expected. It's very compacted and hectic, much more than a normal site."
The 24-hour work has been challenging for neighbors, many of whom were standing in front of their homes yesterday, watching the steady flow of trucks and buses packed with volunteers.
Rizalino Datangel, 57, has lived across the street from the site for more than 30 years.
He said the floodlights are so bright at night and the noise so loud, he hasn't slept much these past few days.
"But I'm not upset," he said, grinning. "I'm happy for the family. It's really good to see the support the Akana family has. I give her credit for what she's done."
He may not like the constant noise or the traffic along Kalihi Street every day. But Datangel said it's for a good cause.
"(Theresa) has a good heart and cares for the community, and look what happened," he said, pointing to the two-story home across the street. "Here's her reward."
Reach Catherine E. Toth at email@example.com.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Theresa "Momi" Akana as a single mother. She is married.