It all started with the oven.

John and Pam Reed’s oven, to be exact.

The Claremore couple’s stove had seen better days — much better days.

Its’ knobs were coming off, and the smell of gas would permeate the house when it was in use.

Nevertheless, the couple always had food in ample supply for their many visitors, most of whom are members of the youth group where the Reeds attend church, Church at Claremore.

“You could sit on their living room couch on a Saturday morning and count 20 or 30 people who would come in to visit them,” said Suzanne Jones, friend of the Reeds and fellow church member. “They would always welcome young people into their home — they’re such a neat couple, and they’ve got huge hearts.

“We wanted to do something nice for them, so we thought maybe we could replace their stove,” she said, adding, “but then we thought, well, their microwave really needs replacing, too. And their kitchen needs repainting, and their carpet ...”

From the microwave, the list of things considered for repair or complete replacement grew and grew until Jones had an idea —Why not repair or replace everything?

“I talked to my husband, Ryan about it, and we asked our Life Group at church if they’d want to help out — the more people who heard about it, the more people wanted to help,” she said. “It just became amazing, the number of people who wanted to pitch in — it went from replacing their oven to completely making over their entire house.”

But how does one completely overhaul a home without the home-owners knowledge?

“John and Pam are at a youth leadership camp in Dallas this week with their kids, so they won’t be back till Friday,” she said. “They think a few members of the church are just repainting their kitchen and feeding their dog while they’re away. They don’t know anything about it — their kids do have some idea of what we’re doing, but they don’t know the full extent of what we’re doing.”

Since Monday of this week, the Reeds home has been a

veritable beehive of activity as friends, church members, and even neighbors have come to donate time and service to the “extreme makeover,” with Jones co-ordinating much of the activity.

“I guess I’m kind of the ‘Ty Pennington’ of this particular makeover,” Jones laughed. “Every time I start working on one thing, I have to stop and go do something else — I haven’t been yelling at people through a megaphone, though.”

The family — all seven members of them — lives in a 1,400 square foot home at 1404 Paradise Lane in Claremore.

Excluding the master bedroom, the five children, ages 13 to 21, share two bedrooms — the three boys in one room, the two girls in the other, and the house — and it’s appliances — reflect the heavy usage of the large family and regular visitors.

“Basically, every appliance in the house has been replaced — the stove, the microwave, washer, dryer, everything,” Jones said. “They’re going to get new floors, new countertops, the interior of the house will be repainted, their electrical system is being rewired to be more efficient and safer, masons have been repairing damage to the outside of the house — all of which are being done by volunteers and craftsmen, donating their own time and/or materials.”

Additionally, once area businesses heard of the project, many of them contributed materials for the makeover.

“So many businesses helped make this possible — Radio Shack, Westlake Ace Hardware, Sherwin Williams, the Maytag Store — even Sonic donated drinks for the workers,” Jones said. “This wouldn’t have been possible without such an outpouring from the community and its businesses.”

Another local business — Dave’s RV — will be loaning Jones and company one of their largest RVs, for an appropriate “move that bus” reveal when the family comes home Friday morning.

“There’s a lot still to do, but I’m sure we’ll get it finished by the time the Reeds are back,” Jones said. “At any given time, we’ve got ten to 30 volunteers here, starting at 9 a.m. and going till midnight — I’ve no doubt the house will be made over by the time they’re back in Claremore.”

“The Reeds are such an amazing and generous family — I can’t for them to freak out when they see their house,” said volunteer John Ray, smiling broadly. “It’s been such a blessing to be part of this project — it’s been almost overwhelming — everyone has been so willing to give of themselves. This is exactly what the body of Christ is supposed to be about.”

“All said and done, there are probably $30,000 worth of materials and volunteer work that have been donated,” Jones said. “I think when John and Pam get home, they’ll be overwhelmed — not so much from the improvements made to their home, but from the heart and the love given by all the people who were part of this project. I’m sure there will be tears.”

Community members wanting to participate in the surprise reveal of the Reed’s home should park in the Church at Claremore parking lot and be at 1404 Paradise Lane (north of Blue Starr Drive, off Valley Parkway) no later than 10:30 a.m.





Staff writer Tom Fink can be reached at maned@swbell.net