UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Making House a Home

011310HeadlineWhen the television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” announced it needed volunteers to help create a home for a local family in need, Woody Burkhead (second from right) jumped at the chance to help. Assistant director of facilities in Housing and Residence Life, he is noted for his carpentry. “’Finish carpentry’” is what I do,” he said. He listed that as a skill. “I got selected. They told me where to go, what to do. Luckily, I got to work in the art tent, where TV personalities work.”  And he had a front row view when the family first saw their new home.

Carpentry was “bred into me,” Burkhead says. His grandfather and father owned an antiques and carpentry business. Burkhead used to own his own company, as well.

He has volunteered his carpentry skills for four years, with his church and with Housing Greensboro, a subsidiary of Habitat for Humanity. Mostly he has repaired rotting kitchens, bathrooms and other rooms.

A friend told him how to register to help out with the ABC network television show. There were lots of volunteers, to help the family. The mother of the family, a teacher, is battling cancer. “The neatest thing, in the grand scheme of things, [was] a whole area of people coming out to help – seeing that many people involved,” he explained.

Only six volunteer craftsmen were selected to work in the art tent.

The six and a show star, Ed Sanders, decided on a creative use for the old porch floorboards. After being cleaned, they were reused, as Sanders and the volunteers designed and created a beautiful, one-of-a-kind dining room table. “In the middle there are 512 pieces, then a border around them – a woven design. No bolts, no fasteners – [just] mortised and glue,” he explained. Then they sanded and burnished it with heat, and protected it with a clear coat.

Is working on the show so different from how it appears on television? “It’s very real. No secrets. It is what it is,” he says. Although as each of the show’s designers does their takes, they might do the same shot several times, he adds.

At the end, the family was driven to the site. He and all the volunteers gathered to share the moment. “We had a great view when they saw [the house]. Very moving. You kind of get choked up.” Adding to the emotion was the fact that he knew the man who’d nominated the family for the show.

“A very deserving family,” he added.

Afterward, he saw a newscast – on Fox 8 he thinks – where the mother was interviewed. She said the dining room table was “one of her favorite parts of the house,” he recalls. It was very special to her.

Being able to help out was very special to him.

The episode is expected to air Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Visual: The volunteers created a unique table from porch floorboards. Burkhead is second from right.