From the Outside of things – 8-28-2014

As an Intern, working with the “From House to Home” project has been my dream. I have gained so much experience through its production and helping a family like the Birdwells is the cherry to top it. As I return to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to continue my journey as a college student, I cannot help to reflect on all of the progress that has been made since the beginning of this journey.

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If you asked every person involved where “the beginning” of this project was, I am positive that you would get several different answers. For me, the beginning was not that first phone call on a Sunday night or when the first hammer was swung inside the house. This project did not impact me strongly when I had my first conversation about it, I thought of it as my job.

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My “beginning” was when Anthony Jr., the Birdwell’s youngest, was restless and crying in our studio one afternoon. I had not even introduced myself to the family, but when I walked into the room, he came up to me and wanted me to pick him up, and I could not resist. Anthony, better known by his nickname “bug”, instantly became a happy little boy. We then became friends, and he was attached to me for the remainder of the afternoon. That day I not only connected with a two year old boy, but I saw the real meaning of this project. It is not just my job; it is my honor to take part in helping this family.

This past week, The City of Rockford proclaimed the week of August 18th, 2014 to be “From House to Home Week.” That very same day when construction commenced, there were 50 volunteers on site. Each day of construction, there are countless local organizations and businesses that are also volunteering their time and talents on the site.

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The proclamation of “From House to Home” week is so much more than the project itself. Don’t get me wrong, the week does commemorate the Birdwell family and their journey, as well as all of the work being done to this house in order to make it into a home. However, the meaning of the week cannot simply stop there. It is hundreds, maybe even thousands, of simple “beginnings”. Whether it be an email, phone call, meeting, signing up on a volunteer sheet, or simple conversation in a local gym, there is a beginning for each and every person that has touched this project, much like myself.

This is why I stress, as you remember the week of August 18th, 2014, to not remember it by just its name. That day, Anthony Jr. made me rethink my involvement on this project, and truly made a lasting impact on my life. It is not always the big picture that we should be looking at, but all of the simple “beginnings” that make the big picture possible.

Rachel Tripp, Marketing Intern

Fired Up

Fired Up – 8-20-14

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Cameras? Check. Mics? Check. Tents? Check. Sweltering Heat? Check. Bottled water? Double check. Everything you need for an eventful media conference, that’s what happened today. It almost felt like a block party, there were even construction-themed cookies!

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Everyone was fired up, partly because it was scorching outside but mainly because I think everyone attending was able to see many of the key players who are making this project possible all in one place. It gave greater tangibility to how much these people care about their veterans and about their community. All the different people and organizations were able to find common ground with one another in helping this family and in seeing the bigger picture.

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With each person that spoke there were gracious words of sincere appreciation and on a couple of occasions, even some unobscured emotion. There was a look of joy and satisfaction on the faces of so many there and I have never seen the Birdwells look happier and more excited. It made me excited too.

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When there was time, I looked around at the other houses on the block and I thought how this house (that used to look so much like all the others) has brought so much attention to this little street. I thought about the future and how this neighborhood might change and how the Birdwell family will change it.

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I think what Kathi Ferrero (from Jeremiah Development, the organization that helped set up the Birdwells with this house) said is true: “this family is going to be a gift to this neighborhood”. Clearly, Kathi is not the only one who can see the gift that the Birdwell family is. Anthony had said at the beginning of this project that with his veteran status and his disability “a lot of people just turn their heads”, and he’s right. But today’s media conference was about those people who have turned their heads toward Anthony and Kerri and their hands and hearts as well.

Abby Bakke, Producer’s Assistant

From House to Home: Part III – A City Coming Together

Here is our third documentary short! In this short you’ll get to hear from Mayor Morrissey, how this project reflects his “vision of excellence everywhere for everyone”, and his appreciation for the community and organizations that have come together for this very special project. You’ll also hear from Kathi Ferrero of Jeremiah Development as she shares how each organization had something significant to give that no one else could. If even one of their contributions were missing, this project would not be possible – we need each other! And that’s what we want to show you through From House to Home. Enjoy!”