I grew up in El Paso, Texas so for me this story has deep heartfelt meaning in many ways. A dear family friend, whose nephew Randy O’Leary owns Desert View Homes, together with a team of volunteers and sponsors in El Paso, gave their hearts, their time, and their resources to help an extraordinary Mexican family for Ty Pennington’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition that will air on Sunday March 15 (ABC 8/7 C).
In an email from my friend Cliff who volunteered for the Extreme Makeover Home Edition El Paso, he writes: “Ty is as good natured off camera as he is when being filmed. The entire production staff (over 100) was as concerned for the charity as El Paso was for having them here.” Volunteers and spectators who participated in the Extreme Makeover Home Edition El Paso episode were asked to bring one or more canned good products. Here’s why.
Since 1996, the Ruiz family in El Paso travels every day across the border to Mexico and gives food, clothing, and supplies to thousands of needy people in Juarez shantytowns on the border. Maria and Jesus Ruiz, along with their two children, use their unfinished El Paso home to collect and prepare charitable donations as part of their foundation that supports a 100-bed orphanage in Juarez, Mexico. The Ruiz family living room, with unfinished plywood floors and exposed drywall, is where the family stores and prepares canned good donations.
Maria and Jesus Ruiz work multiple jobs to keep their charitable foundation operating, despite leaving their home unfinished for 12 years. The home has no heat and after severe water damage, the home is caving in on itself. Thanks to Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Desert View Homes, and countless other volunteers and sponsors in El Paso, the Ruiz family will have a new home after they “Move That Bus” on March 15th.
The design team for the Ruiz home will feature Extreme Makeover Home team leader Ty Pennington, Paul DiMeo, Eduardo Xol, Paige Hemmis, and Rib Hillis. If you wonder what it takes to build an Extreme Makeover Home, visit the Desert View Homes Extreme Makeover showcase on their web site. The showcase has photos from the planning stage through “Move That Bus!” Photos and stories of the Ruiz family home before the makeover are shocking and one can’t imagine how a family could survive for 12 years in this home while focusing their lives on giving to others.
Randy O’Leary, owner of Desert View Homes in El Paso, describes the process of going from building a home in 106 days to building a home in 106 hours in his interview with Robert Gray from El Paso, Inc. O’Leary says the only problem was the framers who were supposed to show up at 7am actually showed up at 5am! O’Leary also modestly describes the location challenges with the home being on a cul de sac and sitting on a cliff. Desert View Homes and other volunteers had to actually build a new road behind the house to get materials delivered for building the new home. Would Randy do it again? “In a heartbeat,” he says.
The Extreme Makeover Home in El Paso is located at 813 Los Lagos, El Paso, TX 79907. Randy O’Leary and Desert View Homes have one more heart beat to offer others after building the Ruiz family a brand new home. Through the Desert View Homes web site, you can make contributions to the Ruiz Family Foundation by PayPal, Pioneer Bank or Desert View Homes. Click here for details.
Growing up in a border town of Mexico is both culturally rewarding but often times simply depressing. My siblings and I took Spanish lessons in school every year from 1st grade to 12th grade. My stepfather worked in a Maquiladora in Mexico, so we spent every summer in Chihuahua, Mexico visiting my Mother. A Maquiladora is an American company that has a manufacturing operation in Mexico. Those years were full of rich cultural experiences that I will always remember and treasure. The Mexican people are generous, caring, giving people with extraordinary, relentless ways of making a sad life happy.
As young teens in El Paso, we cruised the Levy of the Rio Grande River to attend free music concerts, homemade boat races and sometimes, just to hang with friends. There was one problem though: you could not swim in the Rio Grande River because many of the exceptionally poor Mexican families across the river used it as their only bathroom facility.
When I taught high school in El Paso, I taught at a school located across the street from the Rio Grande River. Every morning, Mexican students swam across the river, crawled under the chain-linked border fences, and promptly appeared in class while trying hard to hide their embarrassment. Their only obsessive hope in a life they didn’t ask for, is to get an education that will change their lives forever.
Watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition El Paso with me on Sunday, March 15 (ABC, 8/7 C) to see how one border town family and thousands of desperate Mexican people will have their hopes filled and their dreams come true! Join me in thanking Desert View Homes, Ty Pennington’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition El Paso team, and the hundreds of El Paso volunteers and sponsors who make me proud to be from El Paso, Texas.
Best wishes to the Ruiz family and congratulations on your new home! May God bless you for all you do to help others. Thank you to my friend Cliff, who shared this exciting story with me, and for your heartfelt help to change the life of an extraordinary El Paso family.
Desert View Homes’ Showcase of Extreme Makeover Home Edition El Paso
View the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Process and Ruiz Family Photos
Contributions to the Ruiz Family Foundation
Q and A with Randy O’Leary, Owner of Desert View Homes
El Paso, Inc., Story by Robert Gray, February 15, 2009
Extreme Makeover Home Edition with Ty Pennington