Thursday, May 19, 2005

Developer to donate proceeds of new home's sale

You probably know the drill: the video speeds up on "Trading Spaces," to compress two days worth of renovation and redecorating in a recap running less than minute.

Then there's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," where an eyesore becomes a showpiece in seven days.

Combine the two and you'll get a sense of "Home with a Heart," where an upscale home will go up in the Coachella Valley in the course of only four days.

"It's like a dream come true for a non-profit," says Alison Elsner, Public Relations Director for the Family YMCA of the Desert.

Proceeds from the sale of the new home in Indio will be donated to the Family YMCA and The Barbara Sinatra Children's Center. Each organization is expected to receive a check in excess of $100,000.

"It's like something we would have never imagined in our wildest dreams," says Elsner of the home builders' generosity.

Family Development, whose projects include Generations and Bella Vida in Shadow Hills, first considered giving away a home as a way of giving back to the community. Then it occurred to them they could help more people and cover more ground with the current concept.

"We want to create enough excitement and interest in people to come out. Hopefully, they'll be inspired to see what can happen … create awareness for the good in people and what we can all do if we work together," says Family Development partner Vince Barbato.

The public is encouraged to check out the construction at Shadow Ranch from start to finish. Bleachers will allow you to see the action in spectator-sport fashion, from carpentry to landscaping and tile to granite installation, beginning at 6 a.m. tomorrow at through the ribbon cutting at 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

Barbato estimates over 500 workers will be on hand to complete a task that typically takes four months.

"It's a fascinating project," says Susan Reynolds, executive director of the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center. "It's interesting and educational and rewarding at the same time, which you don't always get in fundraising events."

In the spirit of an old-fashioned barn raising, the project will not be all work and no play.

Clowns and coloring contests are scheduled, DJ's and bands will perform, hot dogs and snow cones are for sale, and one-of-a-kind artwork will be on display.

Reynolds says celebrities were sent a line drawing of the Home with a Heart logo, along with a box of crayons.

You'll have a chance to see how, among others, Kirk Douglas, Tony Bennett, Cheryl Tiegs, Joe Mantegna and Robert Wagner added their personal touches. At the concluding ceremony on Monday, look for giveaways of a Frank Sinatra gift basket and CD collection, as well as a pair of Dodger tickets.

The ultimate winners, though, are the kids in the desert who will benefit from the generosity of the developers and the dozens of sponsors and volunteers participating. "What they're doing helps shape the community," says Elsner.

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