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Home makeover makes it possible to bring home cancer stricken son

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Marietta Schmid, one of the volunteers from the Grandview Church of the Nazarene, spent much of Monday afternoon penciling and painting dinosaur drawings on the walls of 4-year-old Gibbie Orozco's bedroom.

What started out as a mini-extreme home makeover involving about 40 people over the past few months has grown into a project that one might call an actual extreme home makeover. Local contractor Ken Bierlink and other members of the Grandview Church of the Nazarene have come together to make it possible for a Grandview family to bring their young, cancer stricken child home to a sterile environment.

Bierlink explained that Gilbert and Veronica Orozco's 4-year-old son Gibbie has neuroblastoma. He said the family recently learned that in order to bring their young son home from the Ronald McDonald House facility in Seattle, they would have to redo some things in their home to make it a cleaner, safer place for Gibbie. Bierlink said Gibbie's immune system is such that when he is released to come home he won't be able to play with other children or even spend time frolicking around outside.

That's where Bierlink and the members of the Grandview Church of the Nazarene are stepping in. Since Friday, volunteers have been working to transform the Carriage Square home into a relaxing, clean environment for the Orozcos.

"The house has to be as germ-free as possible for little Gibbie," Bierlink said.

He said during the makeover process Veronica and Gibbie are staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle, while Gilbert and the couple's other child, 8-year-old Angelica, are staying with Gilbert's parents so their daughter can make it to school in Grandview.

Over the past several days the volunteers working on the Orozco house have managed to pull out all of the kitchen cabinets, pull up all of the carpet and other flooring, take out all of the doors in the home and get the first layer of paint on the floors, ceilings and walls.

Bierlink explained that an account had been set up for the family to help them cover the expenses that come with taking care of their son. He said they were planning on using that money to make their house into a germ-free respite for Gibbie. Bierlink said the family had pulled the money out of the fund before they realized they had been chosen by the group for the home makeover project. Now that money, instead of being used to pay for the refurbishment of their home, is being used to purchase new cabinets for the kitchen. That is one of the few improvements not being paid for by the home makeover group.

When it comes to painting each of the children's room, it isn't as simple as choosing a color. Instead, each of the children's rooms are being redone in a specific theme. Gibbie's room will feature dinosaurs and trains, while his sister's room will be painted with a white picket fence and butterflies.

"We wanted to create an area he will be comfortable in," Bierlink said of Gibbie's room. "We made his bedroom as much of an outdoor scene as possible because he won't be able to play outside."

Monday afternoon, volunteers Marietta Schmid and Doris Kresse were busy working on painting Gibbie's room. Schmid said it took her about an hour to pencil in all of the drawings of dinosaurs and trains that circle the room. The two women were adding color and paint to the drawings Monday evening, working until it became too cold to have the window open for ventilation.

"It's really cool to get to be a part of this," Schmid said.

She added that her husband, Larry, helped with Friday's demolition work.

When the home makeover is completed each of the three bedrooms will be redone, there will be new paint on all of the walls, and new flooring and doors throughout the house, as well as new cabinets in the kitchen.

Bierlink explained that they are doing what the can to make the environment inside the house as clean as possible for Gibbie. He said they painted the floor and will install laminate flooring throughout the house.

Most of the supplies being used in the house have been donated. Bierlink said the paint and doors were donated and the flooring is being paid for through donations. He added that the Grandview Church of the Nazarene has also stepped up to donate to the project.

The home makeover project is something that started when the Grandview Church of the Nazarene became involved in the 40 Days of Purpose campaign last fall. M'liss Bierlink, Ken's wife, organized the special events and missions for the campaign, which ended up involving challenging each of the church's 90 small groups to look outside the church and do something for someone else.

Then one day, while she was watching the television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" with her husband, the idea of taking on a similar project through the church was sparked.

Originally, the mini home makeover was going to involve redoing one room in one family's house and was going to really just involve those people in the Bierlinks' small group at church. Since then, the project has grown to involve more than 200 volunteers and has evolved from redoing one room in a weekend to redoing most of a house in a matter of weeks.

Bierlink said redoing the Orozco home is just part of the home makeover project the group is taking on. He noted that they have plans to redo another Lower Valley home after work on this home is completed.

He noted that the families were chosen for the project through a nomination process. Nomination forms were gathered last fall, then members of the small group toured the homes of the finalists before settling on the two homes they are planning on making over.

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