Deaf worker helping Knoxville Makeover, pursuing dream

Volunteers carry a support beam as construction continues on a new home in West Knoxville that is being built for the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" reality show on Saturday. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2011 // Buy this photo

Volunteers carry a support beam as construction continues on a new home in West Knoxville that is being built for the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" reality show on Saturday. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Volunteer Michael Arwood, who is deaf, uses an interpreter to tell about his experience working on the house for 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.' Arwood signed up to be a painter, but ended up doing a variety of tasks, including helping to carry 700-pound glass doors through the construction site. 
  
 (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2011

Volunteer Michael Arwood, who is deaf, uses an interpreter to tell about his experience working on the house for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Arwood signed up to be a painter, but ended up doing a variety of tasks, including helping to carry 700-pound glass doors through the construction site. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Throngs of volunteers and spectators spent their Saturday clustered at the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" construction site on Robinson Road in West Knoxville.

Among them was Michael Arwood, a deaf volunteer from Louisville, Tenn.

He decided to donate his time to the project as a way to inspire himself to continue heading toward his dream of working in construction design. But he also hopes he's inspiring others, especially other deaf people.

"I want to give deaf people a good example. Don't let anything or anyone prevent you from doing anything you want to do," he said, aided by an interpreter. "I've got my hands in anything I can get my hands in."

Arwood said he signed up to work as a painter, but he's been happy participating in a variety of tasks, like working with 15 others to carry 700-pound glass doors through the construction site.

"The Lord has really blessed this group — like a big family," he said.

The undertaking is part of a colossal effort to build a new house and duplex for Daniel and Mandy Watson by Tuesday.

The Watsons operate The Restoration House of East Tennessee, a nonprofit that provides housing, mentoring and assistance to single mothers and their families.

"They are taking single moms that feel like they do not have any direction, and they are giving them a map," Pat Harris, a mentor with The Restoration House, said.

She said the organization teaches single mothers about things people often take for granted like budgeting, getting a job and shopping on a budget.

Heather Fulghum, another mentor, said the Watsons and their children have been "overwhelmed and thankful" with the support they've received from flocks of stalwarts.

Saturday's efforts involved pouring the floor of the garage, stonework on the bottom of the house, sheeting completions and installing cabinetry in the duplex, Christi Branscom, the president of lead builder Grace Construction, said.

"They have a really big dining room table so they can eat together, which is neat because they haven't had that before," Branscom said.

As of Saturday afternoon, work was about six hours behind on the 3,000-square foot main house, but work on the 1,500-square foot duplex were as scheduled.

Tammy Murphy and her daughter visited the site as spectators Saturday, and she'll volunteer on Sunday with her co-workers.

"We thought it would be a great cause to come give back to the community," she said. "We're big fans of the show."

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Comments » 3

trollhair writes:

You are singling out a person with disabiity because they are helping out? What about diabetic worker helping? Or mentally ill worker helping? Extremely obese person working?

chiliwillie writes:

in response to trollhair:

You are singling out a person with disabiity because they are helping out? What about diabetic worker helping? Or mentally ill worker helping? Extremely obese person working?

He is not disabled. He has a handicap that he works around. When I think of disabled, I think of those clowns on checks and those handicap plackards. Leeches on my taxes.

cityresident writes:

Building a house is one thing that is fine and good but putting them in the rental business with a duplex is something else ... Or is he on one side of the duplex and she the other? Details left out of the feel good fluffy piece.

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